Salvation Army, police collecting donations for storm victims

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When Pelham Police Department executive assistant Jennifer Smith saw photos depicting the damage in Center Point from the Jan. 23 tornado early morning tornado outbreak, the memories came flooding back.

In a matter of minutes, a powerful tornado had destroyed much of the city she grew up in, and had damaged many of her friends’ homes.

“The schools I went to are going to have to be torn down,” Smith said. “A lot of the damage was along 25th Avenue, and my neighborhood was right behind that.”

Many of Smith’s friends’ houses were destroyed or damaged, giving her a personal connection to the devastating January twister.

“I personally know a lot of the folks, and I know how much they are hurting and how much they need right now,” Smith said. “At this time the damage is so bad that they don’t need people coming to the area to drop off donations.”

A few hours after the tornadoes ripped through Jefferson County and other parts of the state, Smith began organizing a donation drive to help those reeling from the storms. Because Smith helped to organize similar donation drives in the wake of the April 2011 tornado outbreak, the topic was still fresh on her mind.

“We actually wrapped up all of the tornado recovery from April this past December,” Smith said.

Smith currently is helping the Salvation Army in Alabaster collect items to donate to those affected by the Jan. 23 tornadoes. The Salvation Army is collecting bottled water, canned goods, dry goods, toiletries, all sizes of clothing and plastic tubs for storm victims to use to collect salvageable items.

Some of the storm victims’ immediate needs include tarps to cover their damaged houses before rain moves into the area again and sunscreen to protect the storm victims and recovery volunteers as they work to clean up the tornado damage.

Donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. each day at the Salvation Army at 108 Plaza Circle, Suite E, in Alabaster. For more information, call the Salvation Army at 663-7105.