Upshur County man collecting toys, clothes for Kentucky residents suffering from after-effects of tornado

Editor’s note: Clothes and toys may be dropped off at Pop’s Furniture from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily or at a station set up across from Floyd Sign Co.

BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County man is partnering with several local businesses and organizations as well as a church in western Kentucky to transport and distribute donations of toys and clothes to devastated Mayfield, Kentucky.

Tornadoes struck several states Dec. 10 and 11, including Mayfield, Kentucky, a town of about 10,000 in the western part of the state that was hit particularly hard. An Associated Press article reported that in Mayfield, “about 26,000 homes and businesses were without electricity … including nearly all of those in Mayfield.”

Local emergency management officials told the Associated Press that more than 10,000 homes and businesses were without water, while an additional 17,000 are or were under boil-water advisories.

Local Buckhannon-Upshur community member David Beckner said he saw the devastation on the news and decided to gather needed items for the Mayfield community.

“I’ve just been watching the news and seeing all these pictures and it’s heartbreaking, really,” Beckner said. “It’s been going through my head for a week — to get my box-truck filled with toys and go to Mayfield, Kentucky.”

Beckner decided to work with a church in Mayfield to ensure items will go where they’re needed and wanted.

“I finally got in touch with a church today — there’s still a couple standing in Mayfield — so I talked to the pastor and explain the situation to him,” Beckner said. “I told him we’re going to need help unloading, and I would need to know where I was going.”

He spoke with Kim Wilson with the Church of Christ in Mayfield, and that is where Beckner plans to take all the gathered items for distribution.

“I called one of my friends, Jamie Gifford, who is helping me take all the donations to Kentucky, and I also spoke with Robie Messenger, the owner of Pop’s Furniture, who said he would love to help, but he won’t be available until Dec. 27,” Beckner said. “He offered to let us also use his box-truck when he got back, but I told him I really needed a donation location, where I could set up my trailer during the day.”

Beckner said clothes and toys may be brought to two locations: Pop’s Furniture (17 Florida Street in downtown Buckhannon) and a station he is setting up across from the Floyd Sign Company.

“I got approval to set up across from Floyd Sign Company on North Locust Street, but I knew it would be nice to have a drop-off location during the day, when I’m not available,” he said.

Messenger, the owner of Pop’s Furniture, opened his store as a drop-off location, so people may make donations during their regular business hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

“I also reached out to Barbara Kincaid at the (Central West Virginia) pregnancy center (Central West Virginia Pref, and she brought out about three loads of diapers, formula, bottles, clothing toys, and I put that into my box trailer – that filled about a third of trailer,” Beckner said. “The previous day she called and told me she had a connection with Justin Jones, who’s a pastor of St. John’s Church in Parsons and he had about four truckloads of toys. They usually donate to her, but they were at maximum capacity at all their centers. We took a couple trucks and a couple of trailers over and picked everything up from St. John’s yesterday.”

Beckner said several local churches have gathered items and Lowe’s has agreed to donate.

“From talking to that pastor today, he said they have water, there’s tents set up everywhere, they have nonperishables and cleaning supplies,” Beckner said. “Everybody needs personal items, and he said there’s no toys at all, so that was my whole thought a week ago: these kids are not going to have Christmas. Toys and clothing, whether it’s adult clothing all the way down to toddler clothing, that’s really my focus.”

Beckner has not yet decided when he and Gifford will make the drive to Mayfield because they aren’t sure how many more donations they will receive.

“I’m thinking we’re going try to take as much as we can,” Beckner said. “I’m going to make a post on social media [Saturday, Dec. 18] and post the main drop-off location and then see how it goes.”

“I’m playing it by ear,” he added. “If we keep getting donations and we can fill another trailer, then that’s still up in the air. Do we stop at two, then go and get it down there before Christmas and come back? That seems more feasible to me, but we’ll see.”

Beckner said those looking to make monetary donations may contact him directly at 304-613-6999.

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