The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Donate & volunteer

June 3, 2011

DONATE: Cash donations continue to flow

JOPLIN, Mo. — Thanks in part to the actions of a single transplanted Joplin native living in central Missouri, small Joplin businesses and nonprofits directly affected by the May 22 tornado could have access to nearly $1 million, with more on the way.

A check for $864,414 was presented Friday morning to the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas officials by their United Way cousins in Columbia. The total held “United for Joplin” donations made by Columbia-based businesses and individuals.

“It’s a testament of the good-heartedness of people and the desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” said Tim Rich, executive director of the Heart of Missouri United Way. He was on hand Friday morning to hand the check over to Ron Pence, president of the Joplin-based United Way’s board.

Former Joplin resident Brent Beshore, who now lives in Columbia, used his savvy at social networking to secure the funds, using Facebook to funnel money into a tornado fund established by the Heart of Missouri United Way.

“In reality, we’re connected — that’s what’s been proven to me,” Rich said. “We really are connected in ways we never were before.”

Funding may be dispersed to only those nonprofits or for-profit agencies and organizations engaged in tornado recovery efforts in Joplin. A committee of four, including Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr, has been established to review storm recovery funding applications and decide where the money should go.

The money will be given out “based on need,” said Valerie Searcy, director of marketing for the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas.

“Whether it’s $25 or a $1,000, when you put all that into one pot, it’s amazing,” she said.

As of May 27, “United for Joplin” funds reached $1.1 million, Rich said. “And now it’s up to $1.34 million.

“You know, our annual campaign in Columbia (usually raises) $3.5 million, so to be able to raise a third of that (total) in little less than a week, it’s just mind-boggling.”

Contributions included $200,000 from Sam’s Club; $125,000 from the Beshore-Cornell family; $25,000 from Shelter Insurance; $8,680 from Missouri Credit Union; and $5,000 from The Crossing.

Rich didn’t know how many checks they could end up writing for the Joplin-based United Way.

“As the money comes in, we’ll just let it flow” on down to Southwest Missouri, he said. “I don’t know how long this will go on. This has taken on a life of its own.”

Because Joplin has been overwhelmed with tangible donations since the night of May 22, cash donations are now being requested over items such as bottled water or canned goods.

More cash donations continue to pour into the city.

• Friday afternoon, U.S. Bank officials presented to members of the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri Inc. a check for $50,000, supporting the bank’s commitment to rebuilding Joplin.

• Con-way, the freight company based in Joplin, announced on Thursday a $200,000 donation to local Joplin tornado relief efforts. Half of the amount will go directly to citywide efforts coordinated by the CFSWM, Red Cross, The Bridge and Commerce Recovery Fund. The rest of the cash will go to the Con-way Truckload Employee Tornado Relief fund.

• The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced Friday a $100,000 grant to the Joplin Humane Society “to support disaster relief and recovery efforts.” The grant will be used by the Joplin Humane Society for resources needed to support its operation as well as to repair infrastructural damage to the shelter. Additional funding will be used for future disaster response and preparedness efforts in the community.

The grant is named in memory of Joplin Humane Society Executive Director Karen Aquino’s stepdaughter, Rachel Markham, 31, who died when the tornado struck Joplin on May 22.

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Tornado: Donate & volunteer