Group gathers donations for tornado victims in Lee County
Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019
BEAUREGARD, Alabama – The Columbus Ironclad Division of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps is currently taking donations at City Light Church in LaGrange in an effort to help those affected by the weekend tornadoes in Alabama that killed approximately two dozen people.
Tornados ripped through Lee County, Alabama, specifically the communities of Beauregard and Smiths Station on Sunday evening, impacting the lives of division members who live in the area.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity for the kids to help the community out,” division instructor Robert Parker said. “This gives the kids an opportunity to experience teamwork.”
The division is made up of cadets who live in Columbus, as well as Troup County, Harris County and Muscogee County, Georgia in addition to Lee County and surrounding counties in Alabama. Yarnell Allred, division admin officer and instructor, saw the tornados touch down less than a mile from her house.
“We did not receive any damage,” Allred said. “We got very lucky.”
Brittany Belisle, a cadet who is currently a senior at Smiths Station High School in Alabama, has been involved with the US Naval Sea Cadets since she was 11. Her home was in close proximity to the storms, and she spoke to the importance of providing help and supplies to those affected.
“Right down the road from us, less than a mile away, there was a bunch of damage,” Belisle said. “This is very important, I know someone in one of my classes whose house got totally destroyed. It hits really close to home.”
Donations of all kinds are being accepted at City Light Church and will be taken to areas of Lee County as they come in.
“We have a storage area that we will place the donations in,” Parker said. “As soon as that gets full, we will take them into Alabama to distribute.”
Allred said supplies such as personal hygiene items, blankets and pillows will be going to one of the Beauregard schools that is housing displaced individuals. Once those needs are met, the group will coordinate with Lee County officials to determine the locations with the most pressing needs.
The U.S. Naval Sea Cadets is a program attached to the navy that offers programs for youths between ages 10-18 and allows those young adults to have exposure to different aspects of the military.
“It’s similar to ROTC, but much more in-depth,” Parker said. “We do community service and correspondence. We have camps that they go to, they get to pick what kinds of careers they might want to try, they get exposure to the military and maritime activities.
There is no obligation for them to go into the military, but upon entry this does help with advancement.”
The division is accepting donations at any time and plans to make multiple runs into Lee County.
If there are individuals wishing to assist the efforts either in LaGrange or closer to Columbus, they are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.