Numerous agencies, local churches and communities have set up relief efforts for Illinois towns hardest hit by a string of Sunday tornadoes that Gov. Pat Quinn described as the "deadliest we've ever had in the month of November."
A Facebook page titled "Restoring Washington IL" lists updates about road closures, safe zones and ways to reach loved ones in the small Illinois city of Washington that suffered some of the most severe damage.
Quinn said more than 400 homes were damaged or destroyed, one person was killed and more than 120 people were injured when a powerful tornado raked the town.
The Heroes Memorial Foundation on Monday began collecting donations for current and retired service members of the military, police force, fire-EMS and their families who were affected by the tornadoes.
The Salvation Army also is collecting donations to provide relief supplies and other resources to those in need.
Click here to donate, or text your donation by sending STORM to 80888 and replying YES to confirm your donation of $10. To donate via mail, send your check, designated "November Tornadoes," to:
Attn: November Tornadoes
The Salvation Army
10 W. Algonquin Road
Des Plaines, Ill. 60016-6000
The American Red Cross is accepting monetary donations.
Click here to donate, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Matthew 25: Ministries has deployed a disaster response team to areas affected by the tornadoes. The organization is accepting monetary donations, as well as non-perishable food, baby supplies and more.
Click here to donate, or text CARING to 50555 to make a $10 donation toward disaster relief.
The following fire stations are accepting donations until 10 p.m. Monday:
- Plainfield fire station #1 at 14415 S. Coil Plus Dr.
- Troy Fire station 1 at 7000 Cottage St. in Shorewood
- Oswego Fire station 1, 3511 Woolley Road in Oswego
- Channahon Fire station 2, 23351 McClintock Road in Channahon
Two collection points have been set up in North Aurora, with a concentration on plastic bins, household cleaning supplies and personal toiletries. Items can be dropped off until Friday at the North Aurora Police Department, 200 S. Lincolnway (Rt. 31), between 7am and 10pm or at Fox Valley Physician Services, 23 N. Lincolnway, between 8am and 5:30pm. Donations will be delivered over the weekend.
The Village of Lombard is collecting donations through Friday, Dec. 6. Officials are encouraging people to give a variety of items, including baby formula, toiletries, and plastic utensils and dishes. More information on what to give can be found here. Donations can be dropped off at the following sites:
- Lombard Fire Station 1: 50 E. St. Charles Road
- Lombard Fire Station 2: 2020 S. Highland Ave.
- International Village Apartments: 1300 S. Finley Road
The Lombard Fire Department and staff members from International Village Apartments will deliver the donations.
The Coal City Methodist Church was looking for volunteers to serve food and drinks to the workers helping with the clean-up from tornado.
The church also requested donations of cleaning supplies including bleach, gloves, buckets, sponges, garbage bags, mops, towels and other supplies.
Those interested in assisting the tornado victims can go to the Methodist Church, 6805 E. McArdle Road.
The Red Cross mobilized operations to set up six shelters across central Illinois, including Washington and Pekin:
- New Community Church, 14801 Lincoln Ave. in Dolton
- Coal City High School, 655 W. Division St. in Coal City
- Crossroads United Methodist Church, 1420 N. Main St. in Washington
- Evangelical United Methodist Church, 401 Main St. in Washington
- First United Methodist Church, 154 E. Washington St. in East Peoria
- Avanti's Dome, 3105 Griffin Ave. in Pekin
"Red Cross workers are working around the clock to bring relief to people," said Harley Jones, Chief Operating Officer, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. "There are more supplies and help from our volunteers on the way to help with their immediate needs."
Before donating or volunteering, here are some important things to keep in mind:
Know your charities: Stick with organizations that are reputable and known for disaster relief, and make sure you understand how much of your money will go toward the concern you have in mind. Websites like Charity Navigator are a good start for this kind of research. It ranks organizations based on financial health and accountability.
Watch what you donate: Don't overload these communities with shoes and clothing. (After Hurricane Andrew, disaster workers unloaded clothing on the side of the road, which resulted in piles of rotting cloth.) Don't send them food that will spoil or can't be opened. It's also useful to see what charities are bringing to the affected areas so you can balance out the goods they already have.
Be an organized volunteer: If you don't know anyone in the area, work through a charity or other organization. Too many random outsiders who aren't sure what to do could make matters worse. There is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, even if those cooks have the best intentions.