GREENUP COUNTY, KY (WOWK) — After the severe devastation and tragic loss of life following this past weekend’s tornado disasters, local communities in our region are coming together to help do what they can.

“It started with a text message that went to just a few fellow superintendents that I work with…We started with toys and went straight from toys to whenever I asked a superintendent they jumped on board, and they were gonna provide water. And it just kind of rolled and now we’re at 21 school districts,” says Traysea Moresea, superintendent of Greenup County Schools.

This effort is calling on people across the region to help ‘stuff the bus’ by donating goods like toys, water, blankets, and non-perishable items to help those affected by the tornado disaster.

“Every bus will have a different item on it, so one may be all water, one may be all pillows and blankets, items that can be used beyond just the immediate response. Items that they can use for months now,” Moresea says.

The mayor of Greenup, Kentucky, Lundie Meadows, says they’ll take anything to help donate to those in need.

Meadows says the reaction and outpouring from his city already has been overwhelming.

“You see those people—they’ve lost everything. We take things for granted. So, hopefully, our small gesture will touch their hearts,” Meadows says.

The community response is already piling up. Stacks of toys, for example, have already been donated just hours after they began collecting them at Greenup County High School to help give kids in the tornado areas a little bit of Christmas cheer.

“I expected this, but not as much as we did. I know our community is amazing and how great we can be when we come together. But seeing everything that’s already been brought in in just literally a few hours is honestly mind-blowing,” says Brooklyn Greene, a junior at Greenup County High School who is helping wrap the gift donations.

Across town at Russell High School, the collection is also growing.

“Russell Independent was charged with collecting water for our counterparts in the western part of the state. So we’re happy to be able to do that. And we’ve got a pretty good start this morning,” says Anna Chaffin, principal of Russell High School.

“All you have to do is look at the town and see it’s devastated. There’s nothing left. And they need all the help they can get,” says Carolyn Buckholz, who donated water.

“I hope that it helps them make positive steps toward rebuilding and getting back to normal. And anything that we can do to help warms my heart anyway,” says Raegan Williams, a senior at Russell High School who also donated water.

School officials say this effort will hopefully not only help those in need in western Kentucky, but also show students locally how they can have an impact.

“It is about serving the community. And we want them to be able to be good community partners and so this is a way that we can demonstrate, ‘hey we’re in this together, and tomorrow it could be us in need,'” Chaffin says.

“It’s a lesson for these guys. Because they already know what it’s about to give to others, they’re very giving kids but to understand that just the smallest thing can go a very long way and our power exists at whatever age you happen to be,” Moresea says.

Donated items should be dropped off by December 15th.

Below is a list of participating county schools and what they are accepting:

Ashland Independent: Socks, Personal Hygiene

Boyd County Schools: Water

Carter County Schools: Coats, Hats, Gloves

Elliot County Schools: Non-Perishable Food, Water

Fairview Independent: Shelf-stable food, Toiletries

Floyd County Schools: Blankets

Greenup County Schools: Toys

Johnson County Schools: Water

Jenkins Independent: Water

Knott County Schools: Pillows, Flashlights

Lawrence County Schools: Cleaning Supplies

Lewis County Schools: Coats, Hats, Toys

Martin County Schools: Stable Food Items, Toiletries

Morgan County Schools: Socks, Personal Hygiene

Magoffin County Schools: Cleaning Supplies

Paintsville Independent: Blankets

Pike County Schools: Toys

Pikeville Independent: Toys

Raceland Independent: Water

Rowan County Schools: Pillows, Flashlights, Cleaning Supplies

Russell Independent: Water