Local efforts set up to aid tornado victims

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Organizations and individuals at the University have begun relief efforts to help victims of the tornadoes that hit parts of the Midwest on Sunday.

Gov. Pat Quinn declared 13 counties as disaster areas due to the storms, which killed at least six people in Illinois. Hard hit towns include Washington, Coal City, Diamond, Brookport and Gifford.

Allison Canty, a fifth year student in LAS, is working to bring supplies to her hometown of Washington, which is located about 10 miles east of Peoria.

Canty was told by her neighbors that a tornado passed right over her house. While Canty’s home was not damaged, two blocks away from her home, houses are gone, she said.

“Seeing the pictures of the neighborhoods we grew up in … it’s so surreal. Like you see (the pictures) in the news, but you’ve actually been there,” Canty said.

Canty said she and a group of students from Washington wanted to give back to the town that has always been there for them, so they started the “Fill the Truck for Washington” fundraiser. 

Canty is working with Jessica Weston, senior in LAS, Mandi McGuire, senior in ACES, and Dani Frye, senior in AHS, to fill a truck with supplies and bring those supplies to Washington.

The truck was provided by Frye’s father’s company, River City Construction, LLC. The truck can hold 8,000 pounds of supplies, Canty added in an email.

The “Fill the Truck” effort is placing boxes at Greek houses on campus, but they are also hoping to involve those outside the Greek community as well, possibly by partnering with Illini Pride and Orange Krush.

“We are hoping everyone will rally around ‘Fill the Truck for Washington,’” said Bill Sterrett, Interfraternity Council president and senior in Engineering.

The group is looking for donations that include hygiene products and non-perishable food items, rather than old clothes, Canty said.

“We need soap, we need feminine products, we need batteries. We’re out of those,” Canty said. “Instant meals like microwavable macaroni, stuff like that.”

Donations are due by noon on Friday, although boxes will be picked up from Greek houses Thursday.

Drop off locations are at 810 S. First St. and 909 S. Oak St. in Champaign. In order to be let in, people must contact Weston and Frye by Friday. Contact information can be found on the fundraiser’s Facebook event page.

In addition to supplies, the group is accepting monetary donations that can be made via credit card on their YouCaring.com website, by searching for “Fill The Truck Washington.” 

Although the collection has just begun, Canty has already seen an outpouring of support.

“So many people have already responded,” Canty said. “It’s so cool to see the support we’re having for our town that people don’t even know where it is.”

Hannah Prokop, MaryCate Most, Miranda Holloway and Bryan Boccelli contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Canty said two homes in her community were destroyed. Canty said that two blocks away from her home, houses are gone. The Daily Illini regrets the error.