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‘Very Close To Home’ – Winston native leads relief drive

DAILY LEADER / KATIE WILLIAMSON /  Sloane Smith drops off her donations for tornado victims at BelkDitcharo Wednesday. The Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven is conducting a relief drive for Louisville, one of the areas hardest hit by the April 28 storms.

DAILY LEADER / KATIE WILLIAMSON / Sloane Smith drops off her donations for tornado victims at BelkDitcharo Wednesday. The Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven is conducting a relief drive for Louisville, one of the areas hardest hit by the April 28 storms.

Mississippi lost 14 residents to the deadly tornadoes of April 28, and 10 were in the town of Louisville alone. Hundreds of houses and buildings also were destroyed or damaged in the Winston County community.

“It hit very close to home,” said Shannon Miller, Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary project leader. “I grew up close to there and it’s just close to my heart.”

Miller is originally from Weir, 25 miles from Louisville, where she recalls seeing many storms as a girl. So with her many connections to the storm-torn community, Miller said she felt it was important to mobilize help for the victims in Louisville and Winston County.

As a result, Junior Auxiliaries of Brookhaven and Louisville are teaming up to collect donations for the affected families in Winston County. The JA is asking local residents for canned foods, various household supplies and money to be dropped off in locations across Brookhaven and then delivered to Louisville.

“We wanted to help another community in a desperate time of need,” said Miller. “Brookhaven is great about coming together and helping out. We are the kind of community whose hearts go out when something like that happens to another area. We knew that we would be able to help them.”

Copiah-Lincoln Community College has volunteered with the Junior Auxiliaries to work on a campus-wide collection of goods. Their trucking school has also volunteered to transport the donations directly to the families in Winston County.

Several years ago, Co-Lin also started a relief fundraiser when the north Mississippi town of Smithville was hit by one of the largest and deadliest storm systems in state history. The college community is very familiar with the process of how to help in these situations, said Natalie Davis, director of public information at Co-Lin.

“I felt that is was something we could do to help,” Davis said.

The school is collecting items in the student service area on campus and will have bins at the entrance of the gymnasium during graduation. A date in May has not yet been set for when the truck will depart from Brookhaven.

“We have emptied a few bins, but we are still collecting,” said Miller. “We are definitely in need of a lot more.”

Items needed include: Water, paper plates and cups, diapers, non-perishable canned/packaged foods, big garbage bags, infant formula, personal hygiene items, bed linens, pillows, blankets and baby wipes.

Drop-off locations are BelkDitcharo Dental, Betsy Smith Properties, Brookhaven ENT Allergy and Facial Surgery, J. Allan’s, King’s Daughters Medical Center Performance Center, KDMC Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic, Hospice Ministries and Sullivan Ford Lincoln Inc.

The last day for donations to be accepted is Wednesday, May 14.