Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 20, 2013

Volunteers pick up the pieces

More than 400 people help cleanup efforts in Kokomo.

It started with a single tweet and the hashtag “765standup.”

Kokomo High School senior Tayler Persons had surveyed the tornado damage in Kokomo with his uncle Sunday. He knew it was bad. Devastating, really.

He also knew that school Monday was canceled — giving him the perfect opportunity to help his hometown out. His initial idea was to round up his teammates on the basketball team and head out to storm-ravaged areas to lend a hand.

Then he decided to expand his reach. This is something anyone could do.

He tweeted a single message Sunday night to his followers on Twitter.

It said, “Is anybody trying to meet at the high school tomorrow, and then drive to places to help cleanup? Let me know if you are! #765standup.”

He knew his message spread quickly through the social media site and he knew he had people interested in helping him. He figured about 40 people would meet him in the high school parking on Monday.

His estimate was a little off.

By noon Monday, about 250 teens from all across the county stood in the parking lot, bundled in hats, scarves, coats, gloves and boots. They were ready to work.

When Bridges Outreach co-founder Casey Cline showed up to give students their assignments for the day, he was just a little bit shocked.

“I wasn’t expecting this; I’ll say that,” he said. “I thought it was awesome they were using their day off school to help serve their community. These kids are putting others before themselves.”

They spent the afternoon sifting through rubble, picking up debris and cooking and serving meals to people who still had no electricity in their homes.

They were not alone. Throughout Howard County and even beyond, people were reaching out to help in any way they could.

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