The people of Central and North Central Texas began rallying early Thursday to help their neighbors in West in a hundred different ways, large and small.
In Navarro County, the local Salvation Army took its mobile canteen unit to West as soon as they heard about the explosion and served water, Gatorade and a hot breakfast to the search and rescue crews working the scene.
People who want to help are urged to donate eggs, bacon, coffee and money to the local Salvation Army. The items most needed are bottled water and Gatorade, according to Sgt. Toby Romack.
As well, the Corsicana/Navarro County Chamber of Commerce is collecting funds for the rescue effort.
“We’re taking monetary donations,” said Paul Hooper, executive director. “We probably have $3,200. It’s going to the West Relief Fund.”
The funds will be spent at the direction of officials in West, said Eric Meyers, Office of Emergency Management Coordinator.
At the College Park Mall parking lot, students and parents from Frost 4-H and Navarro County 4-H collected personal items, from blankets to toothpaste, to take to the survivors of the explosion. Word was spread through Facebook, explained Lisa Bounds.
“It’s anybody and everybody who has Facebook,” she said.
Trailers full of items had already been taken as of Thursday afternoon, and two more trailers were being filled with more. Trailers and trucks were on loan from UHaul and Frost ISD, and volunteers from the Westhill Church of Christ were helping make it happen, Bounds said.
“It really hit home for us,” Bounds said. “It’s quite a tragedy.”
Family Life Center at First Baptist Church in Corsicana was also collecting wipes and diapers, along with non-perishable food items to be taken to volunteer fire departments in the West area, providing relief and assistance to those firefighters who have been working in shifts aiding the rescue efforts.
In Waco, drives have been set up to collect everything from children’s toys to blankets and clothes. The Extraco Event Center in Valley Mills is serving as a central collection site for most of those items.
In College Station, the students and staff of Texas A&M are collecting cleaning supplies and non-perishable goods, like baby formula, for the people whose homes were destroyed.
Early Thursday, GenCo Federal Credit Union in Waco set up an account to collect money, which will go to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in the area.
“What money we collect will be given to the Red Cross and they’ll distribute as they see fit,” explained Kelley Perkins, marketing director at GenCo.
In Navarro County, the Salvation Army began collecting bottled water and Gatorade, as well as breakfast items, like . The local branch has been serving food out of its mobile canteen unit to the search and rescue workers in West.
In Ennis, the State Farm office is collecting items for the nursing home residents who were displaced, including pillows, toiletries, adult diapers and baby wipes.