In May 7 Issue
One Russell County girl has decided to help in the aftermath of the deadly storms and tornadoes that ripped through Alabama more than a week ago man, leaving many people trying to pick up what's left of their lives.
Russell County High School freshman McKinzie Henson and her family have collected various items this week for the folks in Tuscaloosa, one of the hardest hit cities in Alabama.
She along with her parents, Brandon and Kelly Henson, her brother Branson and family friend Bodie Emerson left Wednesday night to take the trailer load of items like bottled water, baby food, diapers, formula, blankets, clothing, non-perishable food items and more she was able to collect to hard-hit and displaced folks in Tuscaloosa.
McKinzie said after watching the destruction on television last weekend and knowing that she had an aunt in Georgia with friends in Alabama who were affected by the storm, she was moved to help out.
"We decided to do this Sunday," she said. "Sunday we started calling people and the radio stations trying to get the word out and that is how it got started."
She has even had some teachers and fellow students at RCHS to help with items they took.
Henson said this was the first such event she has organized but said she had participated in similar benefits in the past.
"It is completely amazing at how destructive it really was," she said, referencing some videos sent to her from Clarke Pradat in Tuscaloosa. "It is sad. I think it will make a difference seeing it with my own eyes."
She said she believes many people take for granted the lives they lead and that a destructive force of nature can take all that away, leaving only a foundation or shell.
"I've had a lot of phone calls about this," she said about the project. "A lot of our items came Monday and Tuesday but Wednesday a whole lot of stuff came in. People were bringing stuff in left and right."
All of the items were collected at the family business, Henson Ace Hardware, before they headed for Tuscaloosa that night.
The group drove most of the night Wednesday before stopping at a hotel where they regrouped. They then drove on in to Tuscaloosa early Thursday morning where they met with Tuscaloosa Emergency Management Services to unload the items and see the devastation for themselves.
Henson talked earlier in the week with emergency officials in Tuscaloosa about coming down and she said they were very helpful about getting the collected items to those in need.
"They were very cooperative and gave me a lot of information too," she said. "I feel blessed and I'm hoping I can bless those people down there with stuff I know they'll appreciate."
She wished to thank the Victory Community Church pastored by her grandfather, Bill Henson, as well as her home church of Jamestown First Baptist for the many items they donated to the cause. She also wanted to thank the many other churches, groups and individuals that donated items to the cause.
"We were very, very lucky," she said of folks back in Russell County. "I've gotten a really good response with my project. I'm well pleased with it."