How to Help Tornado Victims in Kentucky and Other States

Charitable organizations are mobilizing to help those who lost their homes and livelihoods

Red Cross volunteers work to drop off, sort and gather essential supplies from donations for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged by tornados at South Warren High School in Bowling Green, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021.
Silas Walker/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The deadly swarm of tornadoes that tore through Kentucky and neighboring states killed dozens of people in Kentucky alone as of Monday and left more than 100 missing. Gov. Andy Beshear said he expected more fatalities.

The unseasonable storms flattened Mayfield, Kentucky, knocking down a candle factory there whose employees continued to work despite the warnings, and collapsed a building at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation at the Amazon facility. 

Those who were killed ranged in age from five months to 86 years. 

Photos Show Devastated Communities in Aftermath of Deadly Tornadoes

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Kentucky, and the federal government is providing aid to at least eight of its counties. 

“This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had,” Beshear said on Sunday.

Charitable organizations are mobilizing to help those who lost their homes and livelihoods. The Federal Trade Commission urges Americans to “do your homework” when it comes to donations in order to avoid charity scams.

Here are some of the organizations verified by charity watchdog groups that are accepting donations and seeking volunteers:

  • The American Red Cross says it is responding across multiple states affected by the string of tornadoes, and provides information of open shelters.
  • Americares says it is sending an emergency response team and relief supplies to the communities ripped apart by the tornadoes. It has contacted more than 100 health facilities that it partners with in Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee to offer help. Many are clinics serving low-income or uninsured or underinsured families. 
  • CARE is working with a community-based partner in Louisville to get food, water and emergency cash vouchers to families. 
  • Feed the Children is working with its partners to get food, water and other essentials to the victims of the tornadoes.
  • GlobalGiving Foundation is raising money to provide food and emergency medical supplies to people and animals, to support temporary shelter for families who were displaced and to assist front-line workers with meals and gas. Funds will be used for other needs as they arise.
  • The Salvation Army is collecting donations for emergency services for the tornado victims and rescue workers, including food, drinks, shelter and emotional and spiritual support. One hundred of a donation is applied to the selected disaster relief operation.
  • Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization headed by Franklin Graham, is responding to the deadly tornadoes and is seeking volunteers to help with debris cleanup, roof tarping and chainsaw work. Federal and local COVID-19 guidelines must be followed. There is a three-day minimum stay for overnight volunteers. More daily opportunities will become available.
  • United Way says it is working with emergency management and affected communities to support families affected by the devastating tornadoes. One hundred percent of funds donated to United Way of Kentucky will go toward the recovery, it says.
  • World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization based in Washington State, operates several warehouses across the U.S. stocked with emergency supplies ready to be deployed storm-battered areas. The group has already shipped food, personal protective equipment, heaters, blankets, diapers and even toys to Kentucky. To support World Vision’s tornado relief efforts, donate here.
  • The online crowdfunding platform has compiled a list of verified tornado outbreak fundraisers from across the six states affected by the storms.
How do you really know your donations are going to make a difference? Here are some ways to make sure your money is going toward a good cause. 
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