Upshur County man collects toys and clothes for Kentucky residents suffering from tornado aftermath

Editor’s note: Clothes and toys can 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 western Kentucky church to transport and distribute donated toys and clothing in devastated Mayfield, Kentucky.

Tornadoes hit several states on December 10 and 11, including Mayfield, Kentucky, a town of about 10,000 in the western part of the state that was particularly hard hit. An Associated Press article reported that in Mayfield, “approximately 26,000 homes and businesses were without power…including almost 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 another 17,000 are or were under boil water advisories.

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

“I just watched the news and saw all this footage and it’s really heartbreaking,” Beckner said. “It’s been on my mind for a week – to fill my truck with toys and go to Mayfield, Kentucky.”

Beckner decided to work with a church in Mayfield to make sure the items will go where they are needed and wanted.

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

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

“I called a friend of mine, Jamie Gifford, who helps me bring all the donations to Kentucky, and also spoke with Robie Messenger, the owner of Pop’s Furniture, who said he’d like to help, but he won’t be available until December 27,” Beckner said. “He offered to let us use his box truck as well when he got back, but I told him I really needed a place of donation, where I could install my trailer during the day.”

Beckner said the clothes and toys could 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 permission to set up opposite Floyd Sign Company on North Locust Street, but knew it would be nice to have a drop off location during the day when I’m not available,” said he declared.

Messenger, the owner of Pop’s Furniture, opened its store as a drop-off location, so people can donate during its normal business hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

“I also contacted Barbara Kincaid at the (Central West Virginia) Pregnancy Center (Central West Virginia Pref, and she got out about three loads of diapers, formula, bottles, clothing toys, and I put it on in my box trailer – it filled about a third of the trailer,” Beckner said. “The day before she called me and said she had a connection with Justin Jones, who is a pastor from St. John’s Church in Parsons and he had about four toy trucks They usually donate to her but they were at full capacity in all of their centers We took a few trucks and trailers and picked it all up at St John’s yesterday.

Beckner said several local churches collected items and Lowe’s agreed to donate.

“Talking to this pastor today, he said they have water, there are tents set up everywhere, they have non-perishable food and cleaning supplies,” Beckner said. “Everyone needs personal items, and he said there were no toys at all, so that was my whole thought a week ago: These kids weren’t going to have Christmas. Toys and clothes, whether it’s adult clothes or toddler clothes, that’s really my focus.

Beckner has yet to decide when he and Gifford will travel to Mayfield as they do not know how many additional donations they will receive.

“I think we’ll try to take as many as we can,” Beckner said. “I’m going to do a post on social media [Saturday, Dec. 18] and show the main drop location, then see how it goes.

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

Beckner said those looking to donate money can contact him directly at 304-613-6999.

Elizabeth J. Harless