By Lisa Trigg and Arthur Foulkes
TERRE HAUTE —
In a massive one-day push, close to $50,000 was raised Tuesday in Terre Haute for victims of last Friday’s devastating tornadoes in southern Indiana.
Daylong appeals from local media outlets led to donations to the American Red Cross totaling more than $49,000, according to figures provided by the organization’s Wabash Valley chapter late Tuesday evening.
“It just goes to show that the wonderful people of the Wabash Valley, their hearts go out to people in need,” said Carol Stevens, executive director of the Red Cross of the Wabash Valley. “It’s really amazing.”
Stevens said she had originally hoped Tuesday’s efforts, which included fundraising by local television and radio stations, would drum up about $20,000. To more than double that “is really fantastic,” she said.
All day Tuesday, WTWO-TV 2 and WAWV-TV 38 personalities asked viewers for donations during live broadcasts from the Red Cross headquarters at 700 S. Third St. Those efforts started at 6 a.m. and ended at close to 7:30 p.m. with more than $24,851 in donations.
Also Tuesday, volunteers stood outside of the WTHI-TV and radio building at 918 Ohio Street collecting donations from passing motorists. WTHI-TV 10, My Fox 10 and WWVR-FM 105.5 combined forces to raise $17,656 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Stevens said.
Meanwhile, First Financial Bank also collected donations Tuesday at all of its branches for the Red Cross. Those donations totaled $7,200.
The money will be used to prop up relief efforts already under way in the wake of Friday’s powerful tornadoes, Stevens said. “This money is going to support what we’re already doing and will be doing over the next several weeks,” she said.
Donations were not limited Tuesday to residents of the Wabash Valley. NBC 2’s telethon received a donation over Facebook of more than $1,000 from Arkansas, said Tim Sanders, promotions director for WTWO and WAWV. Another long-distance donation was received from Tennessee, he said.
“It’s opened up everywhere,” Sanders said at the conclusion of Tuesday’s telethon. “We planned this in probably four or five hours, so to be able to make this happen has been awesome,” he said.
Honnalora Hubbard of Terre Haute Ministries, which recruited volunteers for Tuesday’s efforts, said the community response was overwhelming. By Tuesday afternoon, a truck provided by Furniture Gallery filled with donated items was already on its way to the disaster zone, she said.
An unexpected and much-appreciated donation Tuesday came from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility at Carlisle. Representatives from the prison brought 75 quilts that had been made by the inmates since Friday, the day the tornadoes struck.
“We will be emailing them to let them know how many more quilts are needed,” Hubbard said. The inmates also pitched in a $500 donation.
Another example of selfless giving came from a family that brought a vanload of supplies to the Red Cross building Tuesday.
While dropping off their items, Hubbard said that the family made two prayer requests — one for a financial crisis occurring in their family, and the other for an illness in the family.
“Wait,” Hubbard said, “you’re telling me you have a financial struggle, but you pull up with a vanload of stuff for other people? That’s amazing.”
Hubbard is connected to the relief efforts at Henryville through the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD, and through Community Organizations Active in Disaster, or COAD. She also serves as a governor’s appointment to the Faith-Based Community Initiatives group.
A few blocks away from the Red Cross building at WTHI on Ohio Street, general manager Todd Weber said many television viewers were moved to donate by the photos and videos from southern Indiana and southern Illinois showing the devastation and neighbors in need.
Volunteers from the Red Cross and First Financial Bank stood with collection buckets along the curb as motorists pulled up with money dangling from outstretched arms.
“It’s just remarkable, time after time, every time, how successful these efforts are,” Weber said. “They’ve always been successful. The community never stops surprising me on how generous they are.”
Anyone still wanting to help can call Terre Haute Ministries at (812) 234-7100, ext. 215, or the Red Cross at (812) 232-3393, ext. 11.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or email@example.com.