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Nonprofit’s South Austin warehouse preps relief shipment to tornado-battered Kentucky: ‘This is why we do the work that we do’

A truckload of food, personal protective equipment, heaters, blankets, diapers and toys was being sent to Louisville Sunday after a devastating and potentially historic tornado tore through multiple states in the middle of the country, including Illinois.

A worker at World Vision’s warehouse in the South Austin neighborhood loads a semi-truck with relief supplies on Sunday, December 12, 2021.
Tom Schuba/Chicago Sun-Times

In the wake of a devastating and potentially historic tornado that tore through Illinois and other states in the middle of the country this weekend, workers Sunday morning at a nonprofit’s South Austin warehouse loaded a semi-truck with relief supplies destined for storm-battered Kentucky.

World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization focused on addressing poverty and injustice, prepares for these types of disasters by stocking up on some of the items that were being shipped to a church in Louisville, like food, personal protective equipment, heaters, blankets, diapers and even Lego sets and other toys.

“It’s holiday time, and there are children who are affected who can’t do anything, so sometimes just being able to give them a toy, something to hold onto to comfort them at this time, is definitely an added bonus,” said Perrise Thomas, a partner coordinator at World Vision.

Perrise Thomas, a partner coordinator at World Vision, stands inside the nonprofit’s South Austin warehouse on Sunday, December 12, 2021.
Tom Schuba/Chicago Sun-Times

Between Friday night and early Saturday morning, the massive tornado caused 36 confirmed deaths, including at least six people who were killed at an Amazon warehouse in downstate Edwardsville that suffered a direct hit and collapsed.

Kentucky, though, has borne the brunt of the catastrophic event, which could rival the country’s longest tornado on record. At least 22 deaths have been confirmed across the state, though Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has warned the toll could top 100.

Firefighters survey tornado damages in downtown Mayfield on December 11, 2021 in Mayfield, Kentucky.
Firefighters survey tornado damages in downtown Mayfield on December 11, 2021, in Mayfield, Kentucky.
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Headquartered in Washington state, World Vision also operates warehouses in six other states. On Monday, warehouses in Dallas, Texas, and Sewickley, Pennsylvania, plan to make similar relief shipments to Kentucky.

“This is why we do the work that we do,” Thomas said. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s sad to look and see those things, but where it warms our hearts sometimes is just to know that we’re able to provide some type of relief, some type of comfort.”

Donate here to support World Vision’s tornado relief efforts.

Contributing: Associated Press