Locals mobilizing with help, prayers for Joplin

Monday, May 23, 2011 ~ Updated 6:09 PM

EUREKA SPRINGS -- As news of the extent of devastation in Missouri becomes more heart wrenching and Arkansas hospitals begin receiving patients from Joplin, Eurekans are, as usual, already pitching in.

At least two emergency relief efforts, one official and one grassroots, have been mounted in Eureka Springs on behalf of those affected by Joplin's murderous weather.

Barb Dunnam of Eureka Kids, under the auspices of the Office of Human Concern (OHC) in Rogers working with FEMA, began sending daily truckloads into Joplin with urgently needed supplies on Monday.

Meanwhile, local resident Amanda Payne, a Northwest Arkansas Community College (Rogers) student, started an effort of her own after seeing a news report showing "hundreds of children wandering the streets in Joplin looking for parents."

"It broke my heart," said Amanda, "and I just got up and started calling people."

Amanda was made aware of the Eureka Kids organization's efforts and has targeted her group's efforts to help Dunnam's. Payne gained permission from the owners of Focker's Discount Grocery to use it as a collection point until the items can be transferred.

"We bring a younger dimension to the efforts (of OHC/FEMA) by contacting our age group and putting flyers everywhere we can think of, like the bars. Hopefully, if you sit down to go to the bathroom, you gotta see it [our flyer]," said Amanda.

Stay away for now

Dunnam emphasized that while professional help is needed, authorities in Joplin at this point are asking people other than doctors and emergency personnel to please stay away. "They don't have the facilities now to take care of or house citizen volunteers," Dunnam explained.

To that end, only turnaround truckloads of essentials were being driven into Joplin and unloaded as of press time. After Dunnam receives clearance, volunteers and supplies for long term needs will be making the trip.

What to send and where to drop it off

"A woman called and said she had emptied out her kids' toy box," Dunnam reported, "but we can't take those things up there right now because the kids have no place to be."

One carry-around toy, such as a teddy bear, would be welcome, however. Other immediate needs are food, water, diapers, shoes, blankets and weather-appropriate clothing.

Flashlights and other battery-powered lighting, along with items such as camp stoves, baby-carrier backpacks and collapsible playpens might be appreciated.

Anything that can be of immediate use should be taken to the old Wheeler Printing building behind Brighton Ridge nursing home on Hwy. 23S from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. for daily transport.

Non-urgent items like household appliances, linens, games and kitchen supplies may also be taken to the Wheeler building and will be held for ongoing trips to Joplin as needs are clarified.

"Those things will be desperately needed once the FEMA trailers start arriving," commented Dunnam.

There will be one collection day -- Friday, May 27 only, when donations may be taken to W.T. Fockers on US 62E between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Both locations offer a pickup service for anyone unable to deliver their donations.

For information on volunteering, donating, or pickups phone Barb Dunnam at Eureka Kids, 981-0462; or phone Amanda Payne, 244-0685 regarding the Fockers drop-off day.

Volunteers needed

People are needed immediately to collect donations, drive truckloads to Joplin, and help at the Wheeler building. Please call Barb Dunnam at the number above to volunteer now or to sign up for upcoming opportunities to help our neighbors in Joplin.

Prayers

There will be a special service at St. James' Episcopal Church for the Eureka Springs community to offer prayers on behalf of the victims of the Joplin tornado. The service will be at St. James' on the Historic Loop at 12:10 pm on Wednesday, May 25th. The service will include hymns and prayers. Specific prayer requests may be phoned to the church office after 10am on Tuesday until the service on Wednesday noon. The phone number is 253-8610.

Benefit

A benefit for victims of the tornado will be held at Chelsea's bar in Eureka Springs Tuesday evening, May 24.

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