Volunteers, business owners rally to help Bowling Green neighbors

bowling green cleanup
Posted at 8:20 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 02:12:24-05

BOWLING GREEN, KY. (WTVF) — They left their own damaged homes and properties to help neighbors recover from a deadly tornado that claimed 15 lives in Bowling Green.

Monday, law enforcement in Bowling Green confirmed three more deaths. Among the dead are five juveniles and two infants. Thirteen people are still missing.

Ask anyone volunteering their time why they stepped up and the answer is almost always the same. This was less of a choir and more of a calling.

They traveled by the dozens to Bowling Green from churches across Tennessee and Kentucky. Their mission was to make life easier for those who lost some and others who lost everything.

Zach Jones, a local pastor at NewLife Church, put out the call for help and expected maybe one other church to answer. He woke up to find three different congregations ready to clear debris from his mother-in-law’s home.

“I’m still kind of in awe of just the number of people that are here,” Jones said.

Jones wasn’t sure who belonged to what congregation, but he knew this was what being part of a community was all about. It didn't matter who you were, Jones says no one should have to go through this tragedy alone.

“In the midst of devastation, people are coming together in unity and I think that gives us a lot of hope,” Jones said.

Mary Cook joined her church on the trip from Louisville. She had just put in her two-week notice at her job before making the trip. On her way she was told there would be no job to come back to.

“When God tells you to come together, we come together. No questions asked. I haven’t once, until you and I talked, not once thought about my job,” Cook said.

When people come first, Cook says faith takes care of the rest. At least that’s how she and others like Michelle Davis find purpose in the chaos.

Davis runs the consignment shop Elite Repeats where it’s still relatively intact. She can’t say the same about her neighbors.

“When things were at their worst that morning, I said you know what? This is what we’re going to do,” Davis said.

Davis gathered clothes that could be salvaged, placed them in bins, and loaded her SUV. Not to sell, but rather to donate.

“We’re just going to start donating and putting them in tubs and taking them to the facilities that need them because these families have lost everything,” Davis said.

Insurance will take care of getting her back and running, so Davis says her focus is on what she can do for the customers who’ve kept them in business this long.

If you’d like to offer physical donations, NewLife Church is collecting the following to add to the care packages they’ve put together:

  • Washed or new blankets
  • Batteries
  • Cases of water

They’ve partnered with Convoy of Hope and Operation Blessing to get semi-truck loads of care package items. You can bring supplies to the church at 1423 Scottsville Road in Bowling Green. If you would like a care package, you can contact Ann Bolin at 270-779-2640 and they can deliver supplies.

You can also make a monetary donation by clicking on this link for details.

Bowling Green has also opened a volunteer headquarters. People who want to help are asked to come to the WKU Center for Research and Development at 8:00a.m. They will then be dispatched to damaged areas to lend a hand.