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Cash Donations Appreciated by Local Relief Efforts

If you talk to some relief workers on the ground in Joplin, they’ll tell you there are certain items that are in abundant supply…including water and some other basic supplies. It’s perhaps a sign that the relief effort has been overwhelmingly successful after an EF5 tornado caused millions of dollars worth of damage on May 22nd. Due to the large number of tangible donations received, relief organizations are stressing the importance of giving cash. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.

The Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross had a presence in Joplin not long after the tornado struck the town. Steve Woods, Public Affairs Manager for the American Red Cross, says as the initial stages of the recovery effort have ended, cash is what’s needed most.

“We don’t have the mechanism to take in individual donations of small collections of food and especially used clothing and such because it takes so much time to manage that whole process. It’s difficult to identify if the items coming in are going to meet the emergency needs of the families.”

Because emergency needs vary from family to family, some Joplin companies have decided that giving cash to employees impacted by the tornado might be the most effective way to help. These companies are working with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to establish benevolence funds—money given from these funds is nontaxable. Louise Knauer, Senior Vice President for Communications for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, has worked closely with these companies.

“Well we have worked with a number of Joplin area companies who wanted to assist employees that have had either lost family members, or they’ve been injured, or they’ve lost their homes, or had other serious damage as a result of the storm, and sometimes these companies have been damaged themselves.”

Manufacturer Leggett and Platt has worked closely with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to provide for its employees in the Joplin area. Robert McKenzie, a Vice President at Leggett and Platt, says the company has pledged to donate over one million dollars to relief efforts.

“We’ve got over seventy employees that were affected in some way with damage to vehicles or damage to property or complete losses of property. We’ve had two that tragically were killed as a result of the tornado.”

McKenzie says cash donations collected for the fund will directly go to these employees.

“That’s really the purpose of the benevolent fund—it’s really Leggett people helping Leggett people.”

Besides the benevolence funds, there are a number of ways to make cash donations to the relief effort—For example, organizers of a benefit concert in Springfield this Saturday will accept donations from those who attend.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.