“I go outside and it’s just overwhelming,” said Kristi, who had part of her pole barn destroyed by the storm. “I’m amazed at all these high school students.”
That altruistic attitude has spread across Howard County. Beth Rattray, communications director for United Way of Howard County, noted an influx of people wanting to assist the storm victims.
“We can’t be more thankful and grateful to live in a community like this,” she said. “From the moment the tornado hit, we’ve been inundated with calls from volunteers.”
The biggest needs right now are for people to man mobile units, which deliver meals twice a day to the affected areas, and bulk distribution, which provides cleaning supplies and other materials to people whose houses were damaged by the storm.
It is important for those interested in volunteering to wait for an assignment, Rattray said, in order to maintain their safety, as well as make their efforts most worthwhile. It may take one or two days to let volunteers know where they will be needed.
“It’s really frustrating for volunteers because they’ve seen all the damages,” she added. “They want to help at this point. But we have to let the professionals do their job. It’s important we send our volunteers into a safe and sterile environment.”
To sign up for volunteer efforts, call 211 or 765-868-4133 or visit the American Red Cross website, redcross.org. On the Red Cross website, there is a “Ways to Help” tab that leads to “Ways to volunteer” and “volunteer opportunities” links. People should choose the Indianapolis Region and then select the American Red Cross Chapter of North Central Indiana to register to volunteer locally.
The 80-hour volunteer training course can be waived, and volunteers should specify their skill sets.
Donations also are being accepted at a warehouse located at 500 E. Wheeler St. in Kokomo. Canned food, manual can openers, plastic containers, Ziploc bags, shampoo and conditioner, feminine hygiene products, diapers, wipes and baby formula, bottled water and cleaning supplies are needed for people whose homes were damaged by the tornado. Used clothing is not needed, Rattray said.