Helping Those In Need

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tornadoes have recently swept away homes, families, property andmany lives throughout northwest Alabama and Mississippi. Members ofthe Brookhaven community will look to be good neighbors in the weekahead and help supply the thousands in need with some form ofcomfort.

Various collection sites will be set up in Brookhaven and thesurrounding areas this week to gather many non-perishable items tosend to distribution centers in Alabama and the Smithville, Miss.,area.

“People gave so much to us during Katrina and I think it’simportant for us to give back to another community that is hurtingas well,” said Betsy Davis, who is helping to lead one reliefeffort.

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Davis, a special education teacher at Mamie Martin ElementarySchool, grew up in Alabama and has a son who attends the Universityof Alabama.

“This is something I just need to do as an Alabamian, aTuscaloosaian, as a good citizen,” said Davis. “It’s just somethingI need to do.”

Davis will be collecting items such as baby food, diapers,toothpaste, clothes, shoes and any other non-perishable items atMamie Martin.

“Basic everyday necessities,” said Davis. “A lot of the stuffpeople gave us during Katrina, those are the things that aren’treadily available.”

Davis will be leaving Friday to head to Tuscaloosa and help withthe relief efforts firsthand. However, she will still be collectingitems next week.

Tornado relief efforts are also being made to help Smithvilleand the surrounding Mississippi communities.

Dana Hester, an employee with the Mississippi Department ofEmployment Security, said a relief drive will be held Friday andSaturday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the Wal-Mart parking lot toassist those in Mississippi.

“If we can get the word out to the whole city, that’s what we’rereally trying to do,” said Hester. “We’re really not affiliatedwith anyone; it’s just a grassroots effort.”

Donations should include any non-perishable items such as wipes,paper towels, toilet paper, washing powder, baby products such asdiapers and wipes, school supplies and canned goods.

A complete list of items can be found at Formore information, Hester can be contacted at 601-757-9012.

“These people lost everything but what they had on,” saidHester. “All they have are the shoes on their feet and the clotheson their back.”

Hester added that the truck will head to First Baptist Church inAmory Monday and the items would then be distributed to surroundingchurches in the area.

Joel Bonner, with Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in LincolnCounty, is also helping with relief efforts to Alabama.

Bonner has been waving to shoppers from outside a large yellowmoving truck since Tuesday, hoping to attract donations to send toAlabama.

“I believe there is a lot of good in the world and all we haveto do is bring it out,” he said.

Bonner will be collecting much of the same items as the otherrelief efforts.

“If you needed it during Katrina, we’ll sure take it toAlabama,” he said.

Bonner will be collecting donations until about 5 p.m. Wednesdaybefore heading to the Tuscaloosa area Thursday.

The campuses of Copiah-Lincoln Community College will giveresidents surrounding Brookhaven several opportunities to pitch inwith the relief efforts around Smithville.

“We just felt like we needed to do something,” said Co-LinPublic Information Director Natalie Davis. “We had the means to getgoods up there and we wanted to help out fellow Mississippians intheir time of need.”

Non-perishable items are being collected at graduationceremonies on May 13 at 9:30 a.m. in H.L. Stone Stadium.

Items will also be accepted in the Ewing Administration Buildingon the Wesson Campus, Public Information Office on the NatchezCampus and the Vice President’s Office at Simpson County Centerthrough May 13.

“We’re hoping to have enough to fill up our 18-wheeler so ourtruck driving instructor can drive it up there for us,” saidDavis.

Additional relief drives for Smithville and the surroundingareas will begin Thursday at 9 a.m., through the MississippiVolunteer Services out of Jackson, across from the Hansel KingSportsplex on Industrial Park Road.

Drive organizer Joe Fleming said non-perishable food items,personal hygiene products, and water are some of the items beingcollected. He said they are not accepting toys or clothes.

“This is going to be a long-term thing until they tell us toquit,” said Fleming.

The drive will continue from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays andfrom 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

He also mentioned both Piggly Wiggly store locations will haveboxes set up to accept donations. For more information, Fleming canbe reached at 601-724-2454.

Other local relief efforts are in the process of beingorganized.

With family and friends scattered across the South, arearesidents are feeling the effects of the recent weather hittingclose to home.

“It could be us next. We’re really blessed that we missed itthis time,” said Hester. “It could be our community next.”