ASHLAND, KY (WOWK) — The relief effort for those affected by the tornadoes in western Kentucky continues across the Tri-State, with organizations and even local businesses trying to contribute in any way they can.
“I couldn’t imagine right before Christmas this happening to me, so… I just felt called to do it,” says Madison Greenwalt, co-owner of Ironton Nutrition.
Thursday and Friday this business is going to be fundraising for the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund.
All customers have to do to contribute is ask for the ‘Kentucky Strong Tea.’
“They will purchase that and we will then put portions of that back towards the funds for them…We are going to be taking donations, and any cash tips will go straight to them,” Greenwalt says.
“Financial donations are preferred right now. It’s very much still a rescue/recovery effort so, if you really want to help and you’re able to financially, that’s definitely the best way to go for right now,” says Josh Blanton, city commissioner for Ashland, Kentucky.
However, a word of caution for those who want to help: make sure the organization you are donating to is established and reputable to avoid potential scams.
“If there’s a fund or something that looks like it might be something you want to donate to or something interesting you have to do your homework… It doesn’t even have to be a scammer—it could be someone who hasn’t done their homework to make sure the items aren’t going to get to the people who need them,” Blanton explains.
This is echoed by those working at the local United Way in Ashland.
“We’ve had a great response with people wanting to help. People are so giving and so charitable and obviously you can’t see the news and look at the images and not want to help,” says Jerri Compton, CEO of United Way of Northeast Kentucky.
Compton says they recommend people ‘help like a hero:’
“If you want to do something immediate, give blood. Find a blood donation site with the American Red Cross and give blood. You can literally save a life immediately. Next thing would be to give some money. These organizations, whether it’s United Way, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army—these are boots on the ground that are working right now,” Compton says.
“Planning and coordination for relief efforts like this happen year-round. And so there are plans in place and it’s important to understand what those are and let your efforts fit within that process,” Blanton says.