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University community aids local tornado relief efforts

On Sept. 16, severe weather swept through Athens County and central Ohio, destroying more than 450 homes and leaving thousands of people without power.

The situation looked bleak after the storm, but fortunately, volunteers and community members responded quickly. Volunteers gave donations, volunteered their time, and coordinated plans with the community.

Led by Community Service in the Campus Involvement Center (CIC), OHIO students and employees donated a steady stream of non-perishable food, clothing, and toiletries, in addition to raising more than $2,000.

The OHIO community became creative in its food-raising efforts. The Modern Languages Department had a canned-food competition to see which group could muster up the most donations. From sororities to Student Senate to the residence halls, everyone gave generously to help those in need.

Several Projects of the Week led by OHIO's Community Service Leadership Council were also dedicated to tornado relief. 

Student Jessica Harlin describes a typical tornado relief project that she found personally moving.

"We moved furniture and appliances into the trailers for the people to set them up anyway they wanted," Harlin said. "We went to another trailer where a woman was there, her name was Rebecca. She was very thrilled to receive the appliances and furniture. It was like she was purchasing a house for the first time. It was awesome."  

Many student organizations and individuals volunteered countless hours to individual relief effort projects. In addition to providing donations and volunteers, students were involved with "big picture" planning for tornado relief.

Lisa Nelson, graduate assistant in Community Service, and Honors Tutorial student Allie Dyer attended the weekly Tornado Long Term Recovery Committee meetings at the Plains United Methodist Church. The meetings served as an opportunity to coordinate relief efforts and monetary donations for more than 25 different organizations and individuals within Athens County.

Dyer said students and staff should be proud of their involvement with donations, volunteering, and planning the response to this natural disaster that disrupted the lives of so many.

"Just as importantly, the University and the local community have developed closer, more positive bonds in the process, forming a relationship that will benefit both in the future," Dyer said.