The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 1, 2011

Volunteers gather money, supplies for Tuscaloosa

ROAMING SHORES — Disturbing images on a TV screen more than a month ago pushed Mary Kerchelich into action.

“I want to say (it was) the Upper Person (God),” Kerchelich of Roaming Shores said of her gathering forces to help people who lost everything when a brutal tornado leveled much of Tuscaloosa in May.

“I was watching it on TV, and I was really upset,” she said.

Kerchelich worked with friends and organizations to see what could be done to help the people of Alabama.

“We have around $1,300 in money, 200 toothbrushes and 100 (containers of) toothpaste to name just a few of the items to be heading south this morning with five people and three packed vans of supplies, clothes and baby diapers.

Donations came from Grand Valley schools, Scared Heart Church in Rock Creek, St. Mary Church in Orwell and the Geauga County Sheriff’s Department, Kerchelich said.

“It is about a 12-1/2 hour drive,” she said.

The supplies and money will be donated to Catholic Social Services, representatives of a Tuscaloosa elementary school that was destroyed, and distributed directly to people whose homes were destroyed, Kerchelich said.

Kerchelich will be traveling with Kathy and J.R. Hagerdorn, Doug Oroscz and Cindy Bodisch. The group plans to stay for three days.

Hagerdorn is a veteran of several mission trips to Appalachia.

This trip brings other considerations.

“I’m a little scared. I’m just concerned about the weather,” Hagerdorn said.

She said contacts in Tuscaloosa said a lot of trucks have been coming to Alabama with broken toys and badly worn clothes.

“I guaranteed them our stuff would be gently used or brand new,” Kerchelich said.

“Any leftovers are going to Joplin,” Kerchelich said.

The group will be driving rental vans donated by Enterprise in Ashtabula.

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