By Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal
SMITHVILLE – In June, a fundraiser headed up by Northeast Mississippi media outlets at The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo raised funds for victims of the EF-5 tornado that hit Smithville in April.
The original goal was $50,000, but that was more than doubled by the generosity of donors in the days that followed. More than $107,000 had been raised by August.
On Friday, CREATE Foundation President Mike Clayborne came to the temporary campus of Smithville Schools and presented $75,000 in checks to Monroe County Superintendent of Education Scott Cantrell, United Way of Monroe County Executive Director Patti Parker and Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
“I am amazed at what this community has done since the devastating tornado,” Clayborne said. “It says a lot about one area of how you stepped up. This is not an overnight thing to fix, but an ongoing thing.”
Clayborne also said it was unbelievable what the schools had done to get back in operation at the temporary campus in Smithville. He introduced Tupelo Public School District Interim Superintendent David Meadows, who presented a $10,000 check.
“I am humbled to be here,” Meadows said. “The Tupelo Schools are thankful to be able to reach out and help.” Meadows said the entire school district had contributed.
“We are appreciative of your help,” Monroe County Superintendent of Education Scott Cantrell said. “It is good to know that we are not forgotten. The Tupelo Public School District have given us books and other needed items. They have shown us tremendous support.”
The United Way of Monroe County received $15,000.
The agency, Clayborne said, “has been on the front line since the tornado happened. As time goes on, this donation will work as you help in the future.”
Parker said it had been a combined effort of neighbors and friends helping each other. She said they were looking forward to having 1,200 folks on the ground in October helping to rebuild homes.
Clayborne praised Kennedy’s leadership as mayor. “I hope this check will help you and your community get restored,” he said, giving Kennedy a $25,000 check.
“It was a great day at Barnes Crossing Mall,” Kennedy said. “Northeast Mississippi is a great area.”
The Salvation Army received $15,000 and the Red Cross received $10,000.
“This is not the end. There is more left to be done. We hope that people and organizations will help this community get back even better than before,” Clayborne said.
Clayborne said some additional funds will be available as needs are identified.