Archdiocese schools and parishes
send aid to tornado victims

Steve DeSha, a member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver Council 58 at St. Augustine Church, helped unload bottled water from a truck in Mayfield, Ky., Dec. 18. (Photos Special to The Record)

Record Staff Reports

With less than two weeks until Christmas, Catholic schools and churches immediately responded to the needs of survivors of the Western Kentucky tornadoes whose lives were upended by the deadly Dec. 10-11 storms.

They held fundraisers and donation drives to raise money and collect emergency items that were sent to Western Kentucky in time for Christmas.

Deacon Keith McKenzie, who serves at St. Augustine Church, and four members of the Knights of St. Peter Claver Council 58 at St. Augustine traveled to Mayfield, Ky., Dec. 18. The group delivered bottled water and clothing to help tornado survivors. St. Martin de Porres Church, 3112 W. Broadway, also donated clothing, said Steve DeSha, one of the Knights who traveled to Mayfield. The items were delivered to a school serving as a distribution site.

DeSha said the destruction left by the tornadoes is “a sight to behold,” adding, “There is a lot of devastation.”

A makeshift memorial for victims of the tornadoes is seen outside a house in Mayfield, Ky. (Photos Special to The Record)

Getting to Mayfield was difficult, he said, because so many roads were blocked as crews worked to clean and restore power. He saw “acres of trees and telephone poles snapped in two” and churches reduced to rubble, he said.

But DeSha also saw the community coming together, he noted.

“People were out cutting up trees, people just helping each other. … We wanted to find a way to help out and make our contribution. It’s the Knights’ mission to help out where we can,” said DeSha.

Holy Trinity Church in St. Matthews provided space for local companies, including one owned by parishioner Reiss Bright, to park a 53-foot trailer to collect donations. Parishioners and others brought a range of items Dec. 18 to distribute at the Mayfield-Graves County Fairgrounds. Among the items were Christmas toys, cleaning supplies and non-perishable food.

Catholic schools had little time to plan or execute their efforts, with the semester ending Dec. 17 for most schools. But several managed to raise money and collect items.

St. Bernard School second-graders helped load a trailer with donated items meant for tornado survivors in Western, Ky. (Photos Special to The Record)

St. Bernard School students held dress-down days the week of Dec. 13 to raise money for survivors. The students raised $4,500, which was sent to the Diocese of Owensboro. The students also sorted and packed toys, new clothing, food, water, bedding, diapers, flashlights, batteries and cleaning supplies donated by St. Bernard Church parishioners to help survivors in Mayfield.

St. Francis of Assisi School’s Committee on Conscience held a dress-down day and collected $1,500 to help survivors through the American Red Cross. The Committee on Conscience is a group of middle schoolers committed to social justice and charitable giving, according to the school.

Holy Spirit School students carried boxes of donated supplies destined for tornado survivors in Western Kentucky. (Photos Special to The Record)

DeSales High School is also working with the American Red Cross to raise funds to help tornado survivors. The school has set up a website and has collected more than $2,000, so far. To donate, visit https://buff.ly/323oIt1. DeSales also collected and sent items such as toiletries, diapers and food.

Presentation Academy’s students, faculty and staff raised $1,000 to help survivors. The funds were donated to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Disaster Relief Donation. The sisters are working in Bowling Green, Ky., and Campbellsville, Ky., to help with the cleanup effort.

St. Andrew Academy’s eighth-grade students donated $1,000 from their class funds to help tornado victims. The students also collected items, including toiletries and diapers, to send to Western Kentucky.

St. Gabriel School students sold candy canes and other snacks at school last week to raise money for tornado survivors. (Photos Special to The Record)

St. Gabriel School’s student council donated $800, the proceeds from their annual candy cane sales, to the Diocese of Owensboro for the tornado relief effort.

Holy Cross High School president Danielle Wiegandt along with students purchased items from a snack table at the school. The proceeds were sent to Western Kentucky to help tornado survivors. (Photos Special to The Record)

Holy Cross High School’s Cougars for Christ donated funds raised from the sale of snacks to tornado survivors.

Holy Spirit School students held a donation drive and collected blankets, clothes, toiletries and food for tornado victims. Seventh-grade teacher Emily McCarty delivered the donations to Muhlenberg County in Western Kentucky, which is providing support to the town of Bremen, where 11 people died in the storms.

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