By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
MCNEILL, Miss. —
Donations have been pouring in to the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department located on Library Street, off of Highway 11, since a National Weather Service confirmed EF-3 tornado hit Pearl River and Stone counties on Christmas Day. The tornado was 175 yards wide, with estimated peak winds of 140 mph, and left a 24 mile long track of devastation in which it destroyed 28 homes in the two counties.
In fact, so many donated clothing items have been received that the donation center is no longer accepting them, redirecting potential donor’s attention to non-perishable food items, toiletries and monetary donations via gift cards.
“Organizers have reported that they have received an overwhelming amount of clothes and they are in need of non-perishable food and household items. Volunteers are greatly needed to help organize donations,” said Pearl River County Public Information Officer Tony Bounds. “In addition, while the Red Cross will be on site at the First Baptist Compound to help with claims, the shelter has been closed due to non-use.”
“At this time, we are planning a yard sale to benefit the tornado victims for Saturday, the 29th, beginning at 8 a.m., at the Pearl River Central Elementary School Gym. The yard sale will last until we either run out of volunteers or items to sell. We are also aggressively searching for housing for these people,” said donation coordinator Mary Hopkins. “It has been miraculous the way the community has responded and needs have been met instantaneously with donors and recipients having no knowledge of each other.
“Last night, as we were securing housing for a couple, the lady mentioned that she had just got her new washer and dryer out of lay-a-way and now they were both gone. The comment had barely passed when my cell phone rang with someone wanting to donate a washer and dryer. We were all in tears at the way the Lord works.”
Hopkins shared another story of a victim’s gratitude at the outpouring of support from his community, “Last night a gentlemen from one of the families told me that he had no idea that people cared like this anymore. He had never felt so much love from complete strangers. He asked what he could do to try to repay his community and I told him to pay the love and blessings forward, when he found others in need. This has been so inspirational all of the way around.”
PRC County Court Judge Richelle Lumpkin was out on Friday helping clear debris.
“Pearl River County Court Judge Richelle Lumpkin, is a countywide elected official and a life long resident of the county and McNeill community. Those affected by this disaster were some if her friends and family. As a community member, public servant and friend she has jumped in to help without a second thought. She wants to help her friends make it thought this devastating time in their lives, in any way she can,” said Bounds.
For those who would like to make a monetary donation, an account for tornado victims has been set up at First National Bank under the name of McNeill Tornado Disaster.