Michiana charities look to help tornado victims of Oklahoma - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michiana charities look to help tornado victims of Oklahoma


It is hard to watch the devastation from Oklahoma without wanting to reach out and lend a hand.

However, according to  local non-profits, there are both good and bad ways to help those in need.

One important thing to look for is where your money or your donations are actually going. For instance, the women who set up a stuff-a-truck in Mishawaka, their items are all going to St. Vincent De Paul in Oklahoma City where the items will be distributed.

There are some efforts out there though that could actually wind up being more of a problem than a solution.

Hundreds of people stopped by Wednesday's Stuff-A-Truck event in Mishawaka to donate whatever they could to help the families who's homes were destroyed by tornadoes in Oklahoma.

"Kids brining in their toys saying 'here give this to the other kids that really need it,'" said Kathy Seidl, one of the women who organized the donation effort.

Patti Waltz and Seidl are hoping to fill the truck with everything from toys to toiletries before they head down to drop the items at a church in Oklahoma.

"You get up in the morning, you go to the bathroom, and you brush your teeth," said Seidl. "[The tornado victims] don't have a bathroom and they don't have a tooth brush, so everything and anything is what they need."

Local Red Cross branches are also doing what they can.  Not only have volunteers deployed,   but they are accepting monetary donations. The Red Cross only accepts money because that allows them to purchase exactly what is needed at the site of the disaster.

"The money that's donated can stay here and help people after a fire or sometimes we've got friends and neighbors down in Oklahoma and we'll help them as well," said Doug Farmwald, the American Red Cross - St. Joseph Co. Branch.

Farmwald says unfortunately during times like these good intentions can wind up hurting. A donation without an exact destination can end up as a headache for volunteers. Instead, have an exact plan, like the women who organized the Stuff-A-Truck.

"Make sure you've got a connection on the other end, so that it has a place to go and that there's a plan to get it to someone who needs it,"  said Farmwald.

Both he, along with Waltz and Seidl, know there are a lot of people trying to help in Michiana. They just want to make sure everyone is helping in the most efficient way.

"Michiana's never let anybody down," said Waltz. "You know they've done this for several different reasons and it's been overwhelming. [Wednesday] was overwhelming."

The Stuff-A-Truck continues tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Mishawaka La-Z-Boy store on Main St.. Pro-Fleet donated a the semi-truck, a driver to take down the donations, and the gas to help the cause.

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