LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 5, 2012) — As the horrific images of the devastation to Kentucky life and property from Friday’s tornadoes and strong thunderstorms flickered across television and computer screens throughout Kentucky over the weekend, the hearts of University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff went out to family, friends and strangers.
UK telephones, emails and social media were buzzing with one question Monday morning: What can I do to help?
That question is gradually being answered today as the campus community mobilizes itself to respond to the obvious needs of fellow Kentuckians.
Students in the Robinson Scholars Program were among UK’s first responders; many of them have family and friends whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed in seconds Friday afternoon. The Robinson Scholars office at 217 Funkhouser is beginning to fill up with canned goods and other supplies destined for three storm-ravaged communities in Eastern Kentucky, West Liberty in Morgan County, Magoffin County and Breathitt County. The Appalachian Center, 624 Maxwelton Court, is acting as an additional collection station of much-needed supplies.
The Robinson Scholars, taking advantage of extended family networks, will distribute its supply of canned goods this week in and around West Liberty. Donations will be distributed next week by the Appalachian Center during UK’s spring break service-learning course, previously scheduled in Breathitt and Magoffin counties. Any canned foods and cleaning supplies donated at the center will be delivered to the Burning Fork Community Church in Magoffin County. Suggested items include apples, packaged snacks, bottled water, canned meat and cleaning supplies.
“These communities will require a long-term commitment from all of us. Many of the residents are either uninsured or underinsured. They will need our help to rebuild for a long, long time,” said Ann Kingsolver, director of the Appalachian Center and the Appalachian Studies program.
On Monday morning, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity initiated a Tornado Relief Clothing Drive through Friday, March 9. Clothing of all types, non-perishable food items and monetary donations will be accepted at the drop off location, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Center in the Student Center, directly across from UK Bookstore. Also, monetary donations will be collected outside the Student Center Starbucks from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and outside the Student Government Office in the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. The National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternity’s membership has not yet decided if they will donate the items to the Red Cross or personally drive the items to a donation site in one of the affected counties.
The UK Ag Ambassadors are holding a supply drive as well. The following items are being collected: canned food, cleaning supplies (cleaners, brooms, mops, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes, etc.), and personal hygiene products (socks, undergarments, soaps, toothcare, etc.). These items can be dropped off at N6 Ag Science North or 112 Erikson Hall. Cash donations will also be accepted. Donations will go to the Christian Appalachian Project and a volunteer fire department in Johnson County.
The governing bodies of the university’s Greek community, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council, had meetings scheduled Monday afternoon to plan a response to the state-wide emergency.
“We are working with students to identify options to contribute toward relief efforts, including the incorporation of relief-based service as a part of an Alternative Break project at the David School in David, Ky., previously scheduled for spring break,” said Rhonda Strouse, student services director. “Plans are in progress at this time, but no final confirmation is available as needs are being identified by the Center for Community Outreach and site representatives at the David School in David, Ky. Our students are committed to serve as it contributes in a manner that is responsive and accommodating to the needs of those impacted.”
There are many ways beyond the campus community to help:
•To donate $10, text Redcross at 90999
•Visit www.redcross.org and click Disaster Relief Fund
•Donate at any Central Bank location
•Mail a check to 1450 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY 40511 with “Kentucky Cares” in the memo line.
•visit the Kentucky Emergency Management website to volunteer or donate,http://kyem.ky.gov/donationsvolunteers/Pages/default.aspx