By Kevin McClintock
Four hundred Joplin families affected by the 2011 tornado received boxes of free food and personal care items Wednesday from a coalition of charitable organizations.
The distribution started at 11 a.m. Within a half-hour, more than 100 cars and trucks were lined up.
“It will really help,” said Clay Morgan. He said his family has struggled to rebuild the home it lost in the tornado.
A Convoy of Hope driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said it is nice that the rest of the country hasn’t forgotten about Joplin and its needs more than 16 months after the storm.
“This is a great opportunity to continue helping families in Joplin,” said Jeff Nene, spokesman for Convoy of Hope, which headed up the campaign. “Recovery often takes months, if not years, and we’ve made a promise to be in Joplin as long as we’re needed.”
Convoy of Hope gave each family a 10-pound box of food and hygiene items on the parking lot of Ignite Church, 710 S. Maiden Lane. Each family also received a 25-pound box of food provided by Feed the Children, along with a crate of flavored water.
Tracey Fisher, who had tears in her eyes, said she has “gotten by OK” since the storm, and then blessed the volunteers loading boxes in her car.
As cars and trucks entered the loading area, Bass Pro Shops volunteers waved them in much like NASCAR pit crews do to their drivers, swarming the vehicles to load them.
“I think what’s important is that many of us get to go to bed at night in a warm bed with a roof over our heads, but for these people, their lives are still (negatively) impacted,” said Katie Mitchell, with Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield. Fourteen Bass Pro employees volunteered for the operation.
“We’re trying to see who has the fastest time,” Mitchell said with a laugh.
Nene said Convoy of Hope worked with the Joplin Long Term Recovery Committee to come up with the 400 families that most needed the items. Slipped into each hygiene package was a small stuffed animal for children.
“There have been tears,” Mitchell said. “They are very grateful. You can see it in their faces.”
TY DILLON, a driver with Richard Childress Racing, joined forces with Feed the Children to bring the trailer packed with supplies to Joplin.