April 21, 2012

Alabama Tornado Relief

A few weeks ago, Alpha Phi Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC) Sarah Dariano (Beta Omicron-Bowling Green State) informed the Executive Office about the work of two amazing collegiate Alpha Phis, Paige Trotter and Alex Mays (both Beta Mu-Alabama). Paige and Alex saw the aftermath of the tragic 2011 Alabama tornados and decided to do something about it. This is their story.

On April 27, 2011, we were rushed down to the bottom floor of our dorm, one block away from the path of the F5 tornado that destroyed our town. Tuscaloosa, Alabama had become our home during our freshman year at The University of Alabama (both being from Colorado, Alex and I met as pledge sisters at Alpha Phi). Although we escaped the storm unharmed, we saw plenty who hadn’t. The tornado took away things that could never be replaced, so we wanted to try and bring people comfort and give back what could be replaced. I flew home to Colorado to start campaigning to different churches, schools and organizations in an attempt to raise money. The Colorado community immediately came together bringing us food, clothes and supplies to send back down with Alex’s dad and myself. Alex stayed down in Tuscaloosa volunteering in the cleanup. We spent every day sending out letters, emails and Facebook Group messages to people asking for donations. In the two weeks of fundraising, we raised $6,000, with an exceeding total of $10,000 by the end of the summer.

We “adopted” a family who lost everything in the tornado, and were able to help out a couple more families and individuals with the kind contributions of everyone in Colorado. We supported the White family who left three children as orphans after the tornado. The newborn baby girl was thrown across a field and was found wrapped in clothes without a single scratch, a true miracle baby. The children are under their grandparents care; however, both grandparents had been severely injured by the tornado. We assisted the family in getting food, clothing, toiletries, and were even able to purchase a dryer for them. We also got basic needs to other families and individuals.

We continued to fundraise and host events over the summer of 2011 and worked with a Tuscaloosa non-profit, sending them our additional funds. Approaching the one-year anniversary, we were contacted by Alpha Phi to share our story. We are currently working with another family to furnish the home they finally get to move into after an entire year of living with family members. We are so honored to be Alpha Phis and to be able to share our story with our sisters, along with having their love and support.

Thank you to Paige and Alex for sharing their story! You are an inspiration to Alpha Phis everywhere!

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