On May 23, a three quarter mile wide seven mile long tornado drove through Joplin, Missouri (population 49,000), leaving vast destruction in its wake. Meanwhile, in Evanston, Jamey Johnston was watching the news, shocked and heartbroken at the destruction. Recently unemployed, Mr. Johnston decided he would like to help.

The 21 year has lived in Evanston for 10 years. He began to raise money to go down to the devastated city to help with relief when he met a 24 year old woman named Erin Hudon, who, coincidentally, wanted to go to Joplin as well. They combined the money they raised and left for Joplin on June 14. 

“Imagine if 30 percent of Evanston was gone, in rubble,” Mr. Johnston said. “People lost homes, schools, nature – that’s not going to be back for a long time.”

Mr. Johnston and Ms. Hudon spent five days in Joplin, volunteering with Ignite Church and later with AmeriCorps. Mr. Johnston and Ms. Hudon also ‘adopted’ families affected by the tornado.

Adopt-A-Family, through Facebook, that connects families in Joplin who suffered serious losses in the disaster with people who have means to support them. The Joplin families provide a list of things they need, like microwaves, shoes and toys, and the ‘adopting’ person or family will provide them with these items. Presently, Mr. Johnston and Ms. Hudon are supporting 12 families.

Mr. Johnston returned to Joplin on July 6, bringing the owners of the Celtic Knot with him, who raised money to help. “There are people from Japan, the UK, everywhere,” Mr. Johnston said, citing that there are “50,000 volunteers” in Joplin. Mr. Johnston has decided to relocate to Joplin to stay indefinitely.

More information is available at Mr. Johnston’s website: www.helpushelpjoplin.org.