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Community rallies support for tornado victims

LBWCC students Amber Kersey and Rachel Miller started the “T-shirts for T-town” drive. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

When tragedy strikes, Alabama communities come together to help their fellow man – be it the neighbor down the street or the stranger in another part of the state.

And as usual, the people of Covington County are lending a helping hand to those who survived Wednesday’s deadly tornados, which claimed the lives of at least 238 people.

Even President Barack Obama remarked on the sense of community during his tour of tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa Friday.

“What you’re struck by is people’s resilience and the way that the community has come together,” Obama said. “And…it’s also inherent as part of the American spirit. We go through hard times, but no matter how hard we may be tested, we maintain our faith and we look to each other to make sure that we’re supporting each other and helping each other.

“I’m sure that that spirit is going to continue until this city is all the way back,” he said.

To help coordinate recovery efforts on a state level, Gov. Robert Bentley announced Friday he had activated a Governor’s Recovery Response Center as a central resource to help people get information and resources in the aftermath of the deadly storms.

He said Alabamians with questions regarding state government assistance can call 866-465-2241 daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and speak directly with someone who can help assist them with their needs.

Those wishing to volunteer their time or make donations can volunteer through the governor’s office of faith-based and community initiatives can call 877-273-5018 or visit www.servealabama.gov.

Locally, emergency officials are requesting the following items be donated to any supply drive: non-perishable food items; shoes and clothing of all sizes; baby supplies, such as diapers, clothing, bottles, formula, baby food, pacifiers and baby gear; blankets and pillows; pet supplies such as food; bottled water; flashlights; batteries; school supplies such as paper, pens, pencils, folders and binders; toiletries; first aid supplies such as Band Aids, gauze, wraps, alcohol and peroxide; coloring books and crayons; coolers of any size; garbage bags; Ziploc bags of any size; stuffed animals; and the like.

Some of those are:

• “Covington County Cares,” a supply drive with donations being accepted at the Andalusia Piggly Wiggly. Trailers will haul the donated items to Tuscaloosa as they are filled. Already, three trailers have been sent, including a trailer of ice, a trailer of water, and a trailer of both food and water. Coordinators hope to fill another truck today.

• “T-shirts for T-town,” sponsored by LBW Community College. Students will continue the drive through next week, with donations accepted until Thurs., May 5, in the Jeff Bishop Student Center on the Andalusia campus, and until Fri., May 6, at Andalusia Ballet, Crow’s Nest, Hart’s Country Store, Straughn Elementary School and all Andalusia City School. Additional drop-off points through May 6 include all Opp City Schools, Opp Park and Recreation, Body Conscious in Opp and Crenshaw Drugs in Luverne.

• The Opp Chamber of Commerce is accepting monetary donation for the tornado victims across the state. For more information, call Emilee Gage at 334-493-3070.

A car wash will also be held at Boland Lanes today from 7 a.m. until. All donations will be given to the local American Red Cross chapter for disaster relief. Volunteers are needed as well. Call 334-655-1287 or 334-804-1434 for more information.