The recently formed Organization Acting in Disaster, a group dedicated to helping match those wanting to help and those needing assistance, is making a difference as Ringgold rebuilds following the April 27 tornado.
"All the funds we collect go to purchase building materials to repair or rebuild homes devastated by the tornado," said Phil Ledbetter, head of the Catoosa Family Collaborative and chairman of COAD.
In addition to securing material, COAD coordinates schedules for groups from across the nation that volunteer time and labor to repair and rebuild.
"That is how we pair the materials with volunteers to help homeowners," Ledbetter said.
During the first few weeks COAD-organized groups had already re-roofed 11 homes in the Ringgold area at no charge to those homeowners who were uninsured or underinsured.
"The homeowners have to give any FEMA or insurance money toward the rebuild and we make up the difference," Ledbetter said.
COAD makes it possible for individuals and organizations that want to help rebuilding efforts be certain their monetary contributions are well spent. This is a group of neighbors helping neighbors that is committed to working for as long as it takes - or until the money runs out - to restore their community.
"We received a $50,000 donation from Northwest Georgia Bank plus, they have collected another $15,000 from employees and customers," Ledbetter said.
During 1890's Day, the annual celebration in Ringgold the last weekend of May, donations to COAD exceeded $3,700. A company called Proaxis Therapy has pledged $4,000 and the Community Foundation of Atlanta has inquired about making donations to the local group.
The money that comes in is already earmarked for worthy - and needful - projects, Ledbetter said.
"We have donation sites at all the banks in Catoosa County or individuals can go online at helpringgold.com and donate through PayPal. Our 501(c) (3) is partnered with the Catoosa Baptist Association at Gateway Bank and we have collected over $80,000 so far," he said. "Our goal is half a million!"
Shaw Industries and its employees continue to show their support of those affected by the tornado.
Within days of the catastrophic event the company gave teachers at Ringgold's middle and high schools $150 American Express gift cards.
The company has also provided air-conditioned warehouse space for storage of donated materials, tractor-trailer rigs to haul supplies and hosted blood drives at its plants.
Last week, it was the employees at a local plant who pitched in, according to Jeanne Abdy, who volunteers with a faith-based relief agency.
She said the plant situated alongside Ringgold's public swimming pool had been recognized by the company for its excellence. As a token of appreciation for their efforts, each employee was given a $20 gift card as a bonus.
"To the surprise of the HR director and the plant manager, each of the employees - on their own - decided to give the cards back so that they could be donated to COAD and used to help victims of the tornado," Abdy said. "James Rodgers from Shaw brought in more than $1,400 dollars in Walmart cards from the employees. This is just another sign of the caring people that this community is made of."