Cole Rickert and his family have relatives near Joplin. Cole's grandmother's real estate business was destroyed by the tornado, but all of his relatives who live near Joplin survived.
Once the tornado hit, Cole said he and his family talked about sending one or two care packages. Then, his mom posted their effort on Facebook. Now Cole's effort is booming, and he's especially motivated because he knows what it's like to survive a Missouri tornado.
"We were pretty darn close to it, too close to make me ever forget about it. It's going to haunt me for the rest of my life," Cole said of the tornado he survived about five years ago.
Cole's small idea has now led to a full-fledged food and supplies drive. He said, "No matter how big or small you are, whether you're a kid or adult, you can do God's work, no matter what - you can do it."
As word of Cole's food and supplies drive is spreading, donations are rolling in.
"I think it's going to bring this community together because of the efforts because of people like Cole and knowing God can do some great things," said donor Mark Haines.
The main drop-off location is the family's church at North Point Church, 900 N. Lewis Ave., in Winthrop Harbor, Ill.
- Drop off times are:
- Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, closed
- Sunday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.
- Monday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
An alternate site to drop-off donations is the Habitat for Humanity Restore at 3545 Grand Avenue in Gurnee, Ill. You can drop off items there from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. "To see this many people come together and really trying to help out - it's really touching," said Tim Ammons with Habitat for Humanity.
On Tuesday, the family plans to take a semi-truck of all the supplies collected to Joplin. "Suddenly, it was, 'Let's get a semi-truck, mom.' Wow!" said Cole's mom Kim Rickert.
Money is another way to help Joplin residents rebuild their lives. The president of Lutheran Church Charities Tim Hetzner says 100 percent of each donated dollar will help those in need.
"It's dollar for dollar. We do that for all the families down there, whatever they need in that community," Hetzner said.
To donate money to the relief effort in Joplin, visit: