AVON — As people from all over the state watch the aftermath of the devastating tornados that tore though Henryville, Clark County, and southeastern Indiana on Friday and Gov. Mitch Daniels declared a disaster emergency in 11 southern Indiana counties, a pair of local women decided to take action.
Amy Nickol and Suzanne Shafer, both of Avon, decided that this was their opportunity to aid fellow Hoosiers in the education front.
”Our hearts were just breaking, thinking about the families who are going to be working so long to rebuild their lives,” Nickol said. “We knew that we had to do something to help. Because of our love for kids and our community’s commitment to education, we knew this was an area that we could really help in.”
The tornadoes that ripped a destructive scar across the nation’s belly Friday killed at least 38 people and caused millions of dollars in damage. The Department of Homeland Security said 19 people died in Kentucky, 14 in Indiana, three in Ohio, and one each in Georgia and Alabama. The agency said additional fatalities may result as cleanup crews clear the rubble from more than 85 twisters in 10 states.
Hundreds of others were injured in the biggest one-day burst of tornadoes in March in U.S. Weather Service history.
The school in Henryville was destroyed and a handful of students and faculty were in the building when the twister rolled through. That facility served as the elementary, junior high, and high school there.
The junior and senior high schools have 600 students, with the elementary school enrollment at 500.
At this point, school officials say they don’t know when the students will be able to return to school, or even where.
Shafer said she knows that Avon, and all of Hendricks County, is very giving when fellow Hoosiers are in need.
”Amy and I want to make sure that the supplies we send are a blessing, not a burden,” Shafer said. “Because we have worked on relief efforts before, we know the outpouring of this community is overwhelming. We’re very humbled and amazed at the response we have already had and look forward to working with our community members throughout this week.”
Supplies that they are seeking include new or gently used backpacks, pencils, crayons, pens, notebooks, composition books, calculators, rulers, art supplies, physical education supplies, paper, tissues, plastic bags, and other school items. They are also seeking items that can be used by teachers, as well as toiletries, paper goods, diapers, formula, baby food, non-perishable food, water, blankets, small furniture, etc.
All Avon schools will act as collection sites and students are welcome to bring supplies throughout the week. Nickol said she is pleased to have the school system aiding in the effort.
”I was able to contact Dr. Margaret Hoernemann, associate superintendent with Avon Community Schools,” she said. “She whole-heartedly agreed that our school system would support these efforts. Before we were even able to get press releases out, our wonderful administrators started notifying their faculty, parents, and students.”
In addition to the schools, there will also be collection sites during regular business hours at the Avon Chamber of Commerce, 8244 E. U.S. 36, Ste. 140, Avon, and Shafer’s Collision and Repair Center, 10690 E. U.S. 36, Avon.
For those wanting to donate at other times, Daum Trucking has donated the use of a semi-trailer, which will be parked at Hendricks Regional Health, 8200 E. U.S. 36, Avon, where the farmer’s market is traditionally held. The trailer will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Anyone interested in aiding with accepting and loading donations may e-mail Shafer at Suzanne@ShafersCollision.com or Nickol at Anickol@TackettInsurance.com.
Hoosiers may also help by making monetary donations to the American Red Cross. To contribute, go to www.redcross.org, call (800) RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Contributions may also be sent to local Red Cross chapters.
Though the Indiana State Police do not endorse any particular place to send money, they encourage individuals to send them to safe outlets including the United Way, the American Red Cross, and other locations on a comprehensive list, which can be found online at www.aidmatrixnetwork.org/CashDonations/Default2.aspx?ST=INDIANA#.