When Harrisburg, Ill., was demolished by an F4 tornado, the Simmons Law Firm came to the rescue with donations to help displaced kids. Photo by Samantha Vaughan.
Little more than wreckage was left in the wake of the F4 tornado that savaged Harrisburg, Ill., last spring. The storm killed 14 people, injured at least 100 others, and demolished more than 250 homes. Children were especially hard hit, with many losing their homes, prized possessions, and even their ability to go to school.
When the Simmons Law Firm in nearby Alton, Ill., learned of the tragedy, the firm saw it as a call to action, quickly donating $10,000 to help the kids return to some normalcy amid the chaos. “Many of us at the law firm have young children,” said firm chairman John Simmons. “As we were starting our back-to-school shopping routines, we were reminded that our neighbors in Harrisburg may need a little support this school year.”
When the need was found to be even greater than imagined, the firm followed up with another $10,000 contribution, working with the mayor and a local Baptist church to help youth impacted or displaced by the tornado with their back-to-school needs.
“Harrisburg has about 9,000 residents,” said firm shareholder Ted Gianaris. “It’s a coal mining area that had fallen on hard times. A lot of people were just getting by, and this storm threw them for a loop.”
Harrisburg mayor Eric Gregg said he was “extremely grateful” for the help provided by the Simmons firm, noting that the city is not only rebuilding, “but making Harrisburg even better than before.”
In addition to regular school supplies such as notebooks, markers, and backpacks, the local effort is also seeking donations for haircuts, gym shoes and socks, and new underwear.
Cash donations can be made by sending a check payable to “City of Harrisburg Disaster Relief Fund” to Legence Bank, P.O. Box 297, 502 N. Commercial Street, Harrisburg, IL 62946.