COLUMBIA — Many have donated to the victims affected by the Joplin tornado, but for Caleb Rowden, the cause is personal.
Rowden, a Christian singer, will stage a free benefit concert at 7 p.m. Saturday in Columbia College's Launer Auditorium. David and Gina Croft from Crossfire Campus Ministry at the college are helping to organize the event.
Rowden, the worship and creative arts director for Christian Chapel in Columbia, is a Joplin native.
"A couple of days after the Joplin tornado, we knew we were going to do a benefit concert, we just didn’t know when or where or how," Rowden said.
"I have a lot of friends there. I have some friends who have a 3-week-old baby and their house was flattened. They're still without a home."
The Crofts have been organizing the concert with Rowden, who has toured the country as a singer/songwriter. Both sides have wanted to organize concerts for some time.
"This is something that was on our heart to do," Gina Croft said. "We enjoy going to Christian concerts, but they’re always somewhere else. We wanted to bring them to Columbia."
Tickets are free and donations for Joplin relief will be collected throughout the night.
The concert organizers decided both organizations would use the donations effectively to help victims still recovering from the tornado.
"Although this started off very much as our own idea, it sort of blossomed. We've made connections that will hopefully be useful in the future as well because we don't see this as being a one-time thing," David Croft said.
Gina Croft nodded in agreement and said they want to do one Christian concert at Launer each semester.
"We are excited to see the auditorium filled with different people from different backgrounds and faiths. There's just something beautiful about that," she said. "We are united by one, and it's God."
Tickets are available in advance from three main outlets — the Columbia College Campus Life office, Lemstone Parable Christian Store at 2101 W. Broadway and Donut D-Light at 5695 E. Clark Lane, Suite A. Attendees are urged to pick up their tickets in advance, but tickets will also be available at the door.