On Friday, deadly tornadoes ripped through many parts of the Midwest, including Missouri, Illinois, and most tragically, Kentucky.

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Before moving back to the Hudson Valley, I lived in St. Louis, MO, and on Friday I learned that I was still on their emergency call list when I received several automated warnings of a tornado, urging my family and me to seek shelter immediately. The message itself was jarring, and I could only imagine what it would have been like to have actually been in the path of the deadly storm.

Obviously, my wife and I were safe in Newburgh, 1,000 miles away from the devastation, but so many others were less fortunate. At least seven people lost their lives to the storm in the St. Louis area, but much of the news is currently focused on Kentucky, where so far over 80 people have been confirmed dead with many more still missing. To make matters worse, the tornadoes struck at what many of us consider the happiest time of the year.

It's natural to want to help when a disaster of such large proportions strikes, but it's also easy to feel helpless. How do you help when the victims of the storm live so far away? Well one New York man has decided that the long distance was not going to be a barrier.

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Stepping up to help our neighbors in Kentucky

According to WGRZ, Niagara Falls resident Brett  Brio has made it his mission to load up a giant truck with local donations and drive it down to Kentucky. As Mr. Rogers once shared, his mother urged him to "always look for the helpers" whenever he saw tragedy on the news, and Mr. Brio is definitely one of them. In addition to traditional relief items, he has a special mission as well.

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Mr. Brio is also collecting Christmas gifts, keeping in mind the children who had their world turned upside down smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season. He hopes that his donations can not only return a sense of normalcy to families, but help them to smile again, too.

If you want to be a helper, but you don't have the time or commercial drivers' license to take a giant truck down south or drive up to Niagara Falls to donate to Brett Brio, there are still many ways to help. The New York Times suggests donating to Brother's Brother Foundation, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, or Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, amongst others.

Dutchess county officials are also encouraging donations to the Western Kentucky Toy Drive.

 

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