Posted on

Toys, hay, more to aid tornado victims

Toys, hay, more to aid tornado victims
Toys, hay, more to aid tornado victims
Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor. Corydon Elementary School teacher Kaitlan Episcopo and her students show many of the numerous items they collected during a toy drive for tornado victims in Kentucky.

Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

As Christmas was nearing, many local residents were busy gathering items to give to others. However, these weren’t presents for family members or friends; they were gifts to help strangers who had their way of life uprooted by devastating tornadoes that passed through their hometowns during the overnight/early morning hours of Dec. 10-11.

Kaitlan Episcopo, a first-grade teacher at Corydon Elementary School, enlisted her students to organize a toy drive after a morning meeting on Dec. 13 that included discussions about tornadoes.

“I let the kiddos share what they did over the weekend,” Episcopo said. “Many shared they were hiding in their closets, bathtubs, pillows around them, etc.”

Harrison County, which initially was under a tornado watch, had a tornado warning from 10:37 to 11:15 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10.

“We had been talking about and practicing acts of kindness; we discussed how we could turn this into acts of kindness,” Episcopo said. “I showed them pictures of the areas of destruction, and they started asking if those families would get presents for Christmas. That sparked the toy drive.”

Mayfield, Ky., was initially selected as the destination for the toys because that is where Episcopo had heard about the most damage.

Toys also made their way to western Kentucky.

Episcopo said First Capital Christian Church in Corydon, one of Corydon Elementary School’s sponsors, was in contact with churches in the affected areas and church members were personally driving the toys to those churches to be distributed.

“We are blown away by the community’s support with this,” Episcopo said. “We were worried having only four days before (winter) break we wouldn’t be able to pull it off. However, we just packed an entire short bus and an SUV full of donations. We are so grateful that we can give to others during a time in need.”

Last Wednesday, a convoy, which included a donated semi tractor-trailer and driver by Menke Trucking at Leavenworth, made a trip to Mayfield, Ky., to deliver donated items to a collection site there. The Crawford County Team 1 Cadets collected and sorted the items ranging from clothing, linens and hygiene items to food and toys. Patoka Lake Marina & Winery also joined forces with the cadets.

Several of the cadets — middle school and high school students — went on the seven-hour round trip.

“They had the opportunity to see first-hand the devastation and fruits of their labor,” said Ray Saylor, a school resource officer at Crawford County Community School Corp. who oversees the cadet program.

“Our trip to Mayfield will be something they will not soon forget or the reason they sacrificed so much to help people they didn’t even know,” he said.

Similar collections were made by Elizabeth’s 1819 General Store, Harrison Township Fire Dept., Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, Greenville and Lafayette Township fire districts, Milltown Volunteer Fire Dept., Sines Construction and Concrete in Milltown and Austin’s Clean Cars in Georgetown

On Dec. 20, another group of Southern Indiana residents made a different delivery to western Kentucky.

Madison Richey, a student at Scottsburg High School, where she is a FFA member, organized a hay drive for the tornado victims.

Besides farmers in Scott County, the trip included those from Harrison and Clark counties. They met at Hay Day Inc. just north of Lanesville to travel together.

Robert (Bob) Schickel, owner of Hay Day, said they delivered 140 round bales and 250 square bales of hay, seven pallets of feed, buckets and blankets.

“Madison wanted to do something for those in need and had a goal,” Schickel said last Monday. “This morning she was overjoyed with the community support that surpassed her goal. She and many members of the Scottsburg FFA rode down to Hopkinsville, Ky., to make sure area farmers affected by the recent tornadoes where able to take care of their animals with food and bedding.”

In addition to two semi trailers and three trucks that departed from Hay Day, two other trucks made their way to Hopkinsville as part of Richey’s efforts. Among those helping her reach — and exceed — her goal, in addition to Hay Day Inc., were Dan Cristiani, Hicks Point, Wiley Forme, Smith Farmers, Seed Consultant, Triple H Farms, J&C Feed, Bob Fergison, Kori Jacobs and Coomes Excavating.

“It was an honor to be a part of something so impactful,” Schickel said.