Ascension Parish collects toys for kids affected by storms in Kentucky
BATON ROUGE - Mollie Tinnin, an American Red Cross disaster manager, took time off from her normal life to help those 800 miles away in Kentucky.
The Louisiana native says it's something she had to do right before the holidays.
"I think what has most hit me hard is that you drive through the community and you see the home where walls are ripped off and you can see the insides of their bedroom," Tinnin said.
The devastation in Mayfield, Kentucky is gut-wrenching. Last weekend, a possible EF4 tornado traveled across five states, creating a 250-mile path of catastrophic damage. Right now Tinnin is in Mayfield helping people who are displaced as a Spanish translator.
"The most heartbreaking thing I have seen here is a large Hispanic population that speaks Spanish and they are afraid to ask for help," Tinnin said. "I have not been exposed to that on other disasters. People need shelter, they need emergency supplies, they need tarps, and they need food."
She is not the only one from around the Metro area helping out. Community members from Ascension Parish donated hundreds of toys at the Sheriff's Office in Gonzales.
"We will not let the Grinch steal Christmas from Kentucky," said Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre.
Children whose lives were upended by the storm will still get a visit from Santa, thanks in part to an outpouring of donated toys. So far, two trailers are loaded up with gifts.
"There's a lot of kids out there in Kentucky who are hurting right now," Webre said. "We will not make their Christmas perfect but we will try to make it a little bit better."
With a little extra help from Louisiana and other states, Tinnin says she knows Kentucky will be okay.
"There's a huge sense of community here that I have been very touched by," Tinnin said. "You go into different communities and you will see them with huge pots of food that they are cooking for each other or handing each other a blanket. It's almost a sense of bringing the community closer together."
The trailers stuffed with toys will head to Kentucky early Sunday morning.
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