published Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Storm victim fund collects $70,000

After April’s storms, it’s clear Chattanoogans give a great response to a great need.

Since the beginning of May the community has raised $70,248 for the Times Free Press Neediest Cases Southern Storms fund, channeling money straight to the victims of April’s tornadoes.

Compare that amount to the $40,000 the fund typically raises over a longer, six-week holiday campaign in December, and the 541 donors from as near as Hixson and as far away as the United Kingdom deserve a pat on the back for their quick, generous response.

“It just blows our mind to see how our readers respond to Neediest Cases,” Times Free Press President Jason Taylor said. “It’s been somewhat overwhelming.”

All donations go directly to the Red Cross to provide food, shelter and other necessities to those in need.

And that’s exactly what donor Charles Barrett hoped would happen to the $400 he gave to the fund.

“Stuff like that. Day-to-day needs is the main thing. They lost everything,” he said. “I just wanted to help out, is all.”

And help he did. The fund was created to address smaller needs that often go unanswered. Now that the fundraiser is over, all money raised is in the hands of those who can use it.

Donors were given the option of designating what region their money went to. Northwest Georgia saw $21,696, and the Chattanooga area drew $46,302, proportions reflective of the paper’s readership.

But just because the fundraiser is over doesn’t mean the tornadoes are forgotten, and the Times Free Press will continue covering the storms’ aftermath.

“The recovery process is a long process,” Taylor said. “Keeping it in the forefront just brings more focus to the magnitude.”

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