Toy drives, other Christmas benefits planned for tornado victims

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 11:01 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - This Christmas Eve will mark two weeks since deadly tornadoes ravaged parts of western Kentucky, destroying everything in their path.

Donations, volunteers, and support have flooded these areas in the aftermath. Tuesday, a toy drive organized by Kentucky First Lady Britainy Beshear will begin delivering toys to children.

It’s just one way Kentuckians are making sure these families have something this Christmas. Something simple as a pair of shoes can go a long way when you’ve lost everything.

Sunday, Gov. Andy Beshear, along with UK Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari and others handed out hundreds of brand new shoes, donated by Samaritan’s Feet.

“He looked at them and said, ‘Can I run in them?’” Beshear recalled of a little boy who got a pair of shoes. “He just starts taking off around the crowd. Just this pure moment of joy.”

An innocent moment that many children in western Kentucky are longing for after their lives were forever changed by the deadly tornadoes.

“I know it’s probably hard to understand especially those that are younger what happened to their home, what happened to their vehicle,” said Graves County Commissioner Tyler Goodman.

Across hard hit Graves County, leaders have organized Operation Christmas which will not only hand out gifts, but 4-day supplies of food, water and other needs.

“Being able to provide them with some sense of a normal holiday is something that we want to be able to do, and something that we can do.”

Other organizations and different groups are finding many ways to give families a reason to smile this Christmas.

Starting with First Lady Britainy Beshear and a toy drive she has spear-headed which collected thousands of toys.

They’ll begin to be given out Tuesday.

“Christmas is coming,” the First Lady said. “And children in western Kentucky have lost everything…So my hope with this toy drive is to give those children just a glimmer of joy.”

Goodman says they have warehouses filled with donations and supplies, and that monetary donations are the most useful. Benefit accounts at several area banks have established benefit accounts.

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