It was one year ago this week, that Joplin, Missouri was nearly wiped off the map by deadly tornadoes.

I remember, sitting at home with my family, listening to Joplin First Responders' scanner traffic.  Hearing the hurt and despair in the voices of seasoned police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel as they responded to the emergency was almost unbearable.

That's when my 15 year old daughter, Caitlin, asked what could we do to help. I have to be honest, I didn't have an answer for her.  "Surely there were groups on the way to help with aftermath," I said. I could tell that this wasn't an answer to her question. So we thought about who we would turn to in a similar situation. That's when she made a call to her Uncle Chris - Fire Chief, and the members of the Barry, IL Fire Department and logged on to social media.

That's how the ball started rolling. From there, it continued to grow, with neighbors telling neighbors; reports on radio, television, newspapers, social media. The call went out to contacts with the Joplin Fire Department.  Questions were asked; what was needed now?

People, small businesses and large corporations in our area,opened up their hearts and pocketbooks to get the supplies that were needed most at that time in Joplin. Personal care items were paramount. Imagine, your house and everything you owned was taken toothbrush, soap, toilet paper or diapers for children - you got the picture and kept giving.

Local fire departments used their resources to reach more people, Joplin Fire requested gloves, hard hats and coveralls to help those who were still searching through debris to save victims.  Several large corporations and fire departments donated the equipment in just hours.  Pickup truck loads of supplies started arriving. I don't think I have ever seen so many toiletries assembled at one place in my life. The donations kept coming.

Volunteers gave of their time to sort, package, label and load the items. Complete strangers became friends in mere moments, delivering items from every corner of the Tri-States, to the Barry Firehouse for the "load out." Speaking of the load out, it had grown to become a huge amount of items; how would it get to Joplin? A solution was offered. A local transportation company supplied a truck and another, a 53 foot trailer. What about the fuel? Not to worry, another local business covered that cost. There was an answer to every roadblock along the way.

In less than a weeks time, nearly $30 Thousand dollars in supplies left the local area headed for Joplin, where firefighters there, already had made plans for placement and distribution of the items to Joplin residents. The items from this area were some of the very first received and used by the folks on the ground in Joplin.

Now, here we are, one year later. Is everything back to "normal" in Joplin? Of course not. But the rebuilding and everyday life, although altered for many from what it was before last year, continues there.

If you were one of those who helped in last years relief effort - whether you donated funds, goods, transported items, or gave of your time, Thank you.

You helped make a difference in Joplin.

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