Last minute snags can't stop homeless tornado relief volunteers

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They needed one van and tonight have been offered three. A group of homeless people in Lexington will be heading to Joplin, Missouri tomorrow all thanks to some generosity.

Twelve volunteers from the Catholic Action Center's Community Inn will be leaving Tuesday to help with the storm cleanup, but their first van broke down, and that left their trip in jeopardy.

Bill Barkley didn't know he'd be loading safety equipment into a trailer Monday, but sometimes things move fast when you offer to help. For the last several days volunteers including homeless guests at downtown Lexington's Community Inn have worked with the Christian Appalachian Project and other organizations preparing a tornado relief mission to Joplin, Missouri. But as donations began filling a semi truck, the van set to take the volunteers became a last minute problem. That was about the time Barkley happened to call Ginny Ramsey, who has helped coordinate the trip. "Mentioning a van, she says, oh, you've got a van," Barkley recalled, "I said, yeah. She said, well ours just broke down."

That gave five of the volunteers a ride. Rudy Alarcon is one of those volunteers. "Well, what's really cool is that everybody here has got a lot of pooled in resources," Alarcon said, "They've got a lot of long-standing friendships with the local community, which is really kind of... it's hard to find."

Alarcon offered to help collect safety equipment, but he needed a ride there too. "Ginny says, well if you got the van, can you go down and get this trailer, and I said, well, where's the trailer?" Barkley said.

But even the replacement van had its problems. The air conditioning wasn't working, and Barkley didn't think he could make it to the mechanic in time. "They were getting ready to close up, and of course, after I told them the story, they made the exception and got my air conditioning going," Barkley said pointing to the large trailer marked, "Christian Appalachian Project," "Of course I pulled up with this hooked up. I'm not stupid."

And just as one van came into play, St Joseph's Hospital and a local radio station offered others for the remaining volunteers, making this mission a true community effort.

The group plans to leave Lexington Tuesday morning. When they're not working, several of the volunteers will be blogging about the trip. If you would like to follow along, you can read their posts here:

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