UPDATE: Family to Match $50,000 in Joplin Donations
COLUMBIA -After only two days the Heart of Missouri United Way has raised over $212,000 to aid victims of the tornado in Joplin, MO.
The day started with the announcement of an anonymous mid-Missouri family pledging up to $50,000 in donations.
"We have had people from all over the country just calling in, donating online, texting-to-give, it has just been absolutely incredible," said Brent Beshore, a United Way board member and creator of the Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery facebook page. The page now has more than 147,000 members and grows by thousands more each hour.
"The stuff that happened in Joplin is devastating," said Jackie Johnson, a volunteer for the United Way. "You want to help someway, I don't have a lot of money, I definitely have the time so I thought I would donate that."
"Generally United Ways charge an admin[istration] fee for handling money it is part of how we operate," said Timothy Rich, executive director of the Heart of Missouri United Way. "We have decided not to charge any admin fees at all, and we are going to cover locally we are going to cover the costs of the online donations and text to give processing fees on our end so that donors know 100 percent of their contributions to this disaster relief effort go directly to the people of Joplin."
All the money raised will be given to tornado victims through the local United Way in Joplin. United Way is also working closely with both Federal and State Emergency Management Agencies to get aid to victims.
"We have been getting calls from around the world. I got a call last night from a Doctor in Saudi Arabia who wanted to make a contribution online and who also wanted to see if he could if we could help him find a loved one who lived in Joplin," said Rich. "So the outpouring from the community not just in Columbia, or mid-Missouri across the state and literally around the world has been unbelievable."
People who wish to donate can do so by texting JOPLIN to 864833, calling 573-443-4523 or online at www.uwheartmo.org. If you would like to volunteer your time but don't know how to help visit www.211missouri.org. The United Way will also have a telethon Thursday night from 7-8 p.m that will air on KOMU.
"When a disaster like this happens it doesn't matter where it is geographically we are all affected," said Rich. "Our community has become smaller because of global information systems, and so I am thrilled to see our community, state-wide community, national community and even the international community come to the aid of our brothers and sister, our neighbors right here where we live."
"I have images in my head of what those places used to look like when I was a kid," said Beshore who grew up in Joplin. He knows people who died in the tornado. "Looking at the images I can picture myself there and it doesn't look anything like what I have in my head."