Natural disasters have a way of bringing people together to help others during their time of need.
Thousands of people lost everything they own in the historic tornadoes that swept across Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee in December 2021. If there is a bright spot in the overwhelming darkness of this tragic event, it’s the way total strangers have dropped everything to help victims get back on their feet.
1. After the tornadoes, Jim Finch left his home in Kentucky and drove to the disaster zone to cook for anyone in need.
Jim loaded his smoker and grill into his truck and drove for miles to cook for victims and helpers. “I just figured I’d do what I could do; show up with some food and water,” he explained.
2. Nurses and staff at Monette Manor nursing home in Arkansas used their own bodies to shield residents from harm.
As the tornado approached, nurse Barbara Richards and the rest of the staff gathered 67 residents in a hallway and covered them with pillows and blankets. When that wasn’t enough, the nurses lay on top of them to take the brunt of the storm. Officials say if they hadn’t done that, many more lives would have been lost. Click here for the full story.
3. His whole house was destroyed, but hope — and the piano — remained.
Grateful to be alive, Jordan Baize sat down at his water-damaged piano and played a beautiful and uplifting song. Click here for the full story.
4. Actor Charles Esten is raising money for tornado relief.
You might recognize Charles Esten from his roles on “Nashville” or “Outer Banks.” Now he’s taking on his most important role yet by teaming up with Aerial Recovery Group to provide disaster relief to tornado victims in Mayfield, Kentucky. Click here for the full story.
5. Fellow actress Amanda Henn is helping coordinate donation efforts.
The actress has been using her social media accounts to keep people updated about clothing drives, food donations, and other ways we can all help tornado victims.
6. Man rushes to pull older neighbor from destroyed home in Kentucky.
“I’m lucky to have a good neighbor,” said Bob Newman of Bowling Green, Kentucky, the morning after surviving the deadly storms. When he became trapped in his living room, Bob’s neighbor, Maung Oo, pulled him out, gave him a pair of boots to put on his bare feet, and took him in for the night. Click here for the full story.
7. “This is our neighborhood in Bowling Green. My son wanted to wear his Spider-Man costume in case others needed help. We had some damage but it will be fixed. Many were not as lucky.”
Darren Phelps shared this picture of his son dressed as Spider-Man so he could encourage people in his Bowling Green, Kentucky, neighborhood.
8. Heroes rush to save people from crushed Amazon fulfillment center.
First responders in Edmonton, Illinois, worked through the night to locate and rescue as many trapped workers as they could. Click here for the story.
9. Rescuers pull worker from rubble of collapsed candle factory.
Kyanna Parsons-Perez was working at the candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, when the tornado caused the roof to collapse.
“I don’t know if it was Nate or Gary, it was one of them, and thank you if one of you are watching this, thank you,” she said. “But they came down there, they held my hand, they talked me through it, they pulled and pushed me up.”
10. First responders showed compassion for animals affected by the disaster.
It wasn’t just humans who needed rescuing. Thankfully, brave first responders and kind citizens did their part to rescue as many displaced and injured pets as possible. Find out more here.
11. High school football team organizes toy drive for young victims.
Taylorsville High School head coach Jeb Odam remembered how it felt when strangers organized a toy drive after a tornado hit his Illinois city in 2018. So when team members Luke Durbin and Gage Rusher asked him what they could do to help their neighbors, they decided to pay it forward by hosting a toy drive of their own. Click here for the full story.
12. They lost everything, but they still found a way to help their neighbors.
Angel Rivera and Jonathan Martinez lost just about all of their belongings in the tornado, but that didn’t stop them from borrowing a grill and cooking food for their hungry neighbors.
“I’m alive and I can help,” Jonathan explained.
13. Woman returns cherished family photo after it blew 150 miles from ruined home.
Katie Posten of New Albany, Indiana, discovered the photo stuck to her car windshield and immediately started hunting for its rightful owner. Click here to read her story.
14. A woman named Melisa used her Christmas savings to fire up a food truck and feed survivors in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.
When he heard what she was doing, chef Jose Andres and his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, stepped up to cover all of her expenses!
15. A church group from Martin, Tennessee, came in “like an army” to remove debris, clear fallen trees, and rebuild homes.
“They cut and hauled for hours, they did this out of the kindness of their hearts! And we are so grateful for these people,” Tammy Lynn Erwin wrote on Facebook. “When they say angels are among us, they are referring to people like this!”
It’s going to truly take a village to help all the victims recover from this incredible tragedy. If you’d like to help, you can find several ways to donate here.
Please share this message with others to inspire even more acts of kindness.
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