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Neighbors Help Neighbors During Massive Cleanup

Woman's house sustained damage, but she's helping friends next door.
WASHINGTON - Massive storm cleanup is well underway as droves of volunteers flock to Washington to help.

Saturday morning starts out at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Washington. Volunteers arrive in droves to sign in and suit up. They're hoping to make a small dent in the recovery effort that’s waiting for them outside.

"We don't know anybody we just came down here. We're in contact with the Lutheran Church charities so we just came down here to help out," said Christie Vellella, who drove over from Bloomington. Other volunteers are in town from upstate, some are from out of state.

"It feels so much better than staying home and saying, oh my gosh, isn't this sad," Vellella said.

She headed out with a team to take on the mess.

"We’re emptying things from a basement and putting it out on the curb."

But debris isn't only obstacle the volunteers had to work past. Frost coated the grass as a visual reminder of below freezing temperatures. People worked all day in 20-degree digits. Despite the cold, Shirly Hackmann was hard at work raking up insulation plastered anywhere it could stick.

"It’s frozen down to the ground it’s just going to keep getting worse as the season goes on you know."

But Hackmann didn’t have to travel very hard to lend a hand.

"I’m right next door I’m done with my house so I’m helping out this house," she said.

Hackmann said she had even met with insurance adjusters already so she wanted to help out a friend next door.

"Seeing my neighbor, how bad his is and mine's not that bad," she said. "It's just heart wrenching to see everybody else so much worse than I am I 'm not very bad and the houses down the street are worse, like sticks."

She said the help people have given her has made a world of difference in a time when her world needs it most.

"They come a distance to help us and spend all their time and energies and you know, you wear out if you do it all yourself so long you can only do so much."

She knows it's the community members themselves who will be there in the long run, because the end isn't in sight just yet.

AmeriCorps is handling volunteer coordination beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Top priority is debris pick up needs. Individual volunteers may call (309) 698 – 5002 to register as a volunteer and volunteer groups may call (309) 698-5003 to register the group.

Bethany Community Church in Washington is also organizing volunteers. It’s contact information is: 27265 County Road 2800 N, Washington, IL 61571- (309) 508-1755.
 Those wanting to support can donate online at saheartland.org, or by sending a check to The Salvation Army, 401 NE Adams, Peoria, Illinois 61603. People can also text GIVEHEART to 80888 to make a $10 donation on their cellphone. People then need to reply YES to complete the donation. 
If you do wish to donate, you can use the traditional methods below:
By calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
Online at www.saheartland.org
By mail: 
The Salvation Army - Disaster Relief
401 NE Adams Street
Peoria, IL 61603

Please make checks payable to "The Salvation Army" and clearly marked "November Tornado Relief."
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