Fort Drum spouses support Alabama tornado victims
May 12, 2011
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Alabama may seem hundreds of miles away, but several Fort Drum spouses wanted to help the hundreds of tornado victims in need of assistance. One tornado, which reached wind speeds of more than 260 mph, ripped through the southern states of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
When Kelly Hale, a native of Pensacola, Fla., saw the devastation the mile-wide tornado left in its path, she knew she had to reach out to those who lost everything.
Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, was one of the cities hit the hardest.
"The devastation that Alabama endured was heart-breaking," she said. "I couldn't imagine living my day-to-day life in luxury while so many of them were suffering - especially the children. They depend on us as adults to look after them, to provide, to care and to give them the sense of security they need to strive and to know that it will be OK."
Hale said she credits her Family for inspiring her to begin collecting donations: husband Staff Sgt. Aaron Hale, who serves with 760th Ordnance Company, 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, and her four children: Tyler, 15; Bailey, 12; Makenzie, 9; and Cameron, 5 and a half months.
Hale used Facebook and word of mouth to encourage people to start donating items to send to Alabama.
Spouses donated everything from baby and children's items like diapers, wipes, bedding, car seats and strollers, to nonperishable food items and basic necessities.
Hale washed and separated clothes by size and gender, to make it easier to distribute to families in need. She said her son Tyler played a huge part in collecting and organizing the supplies.
"It was incredible to have so many caring people - Fort Drum Army wives - who were ready to help out," Hale said. "We had so many donations that we weren't able to take it all (on) the first trip."
Hale said she found out that fellow military spouse Kat Causey, a Tuscaloosa native, was planning to make a trip home, so Hale reached out and asked if she could deliver the donations.
"I was headed home anyway, but the disaster in my home state really changed my mission," Causey said. "Things like diapers, adult diapers, formula, can openers, ready-to-eat meals and all the little things you probably wouldn't normally think of are going to be in need for a while.
"This isn't going to get better in a week or even a month," she added. "I'm really grateful for friends like Kelly who are willing to organize others to get the things that are needed most."
The spouses collected about $5,000 worth of items, Hale said. The volunteers in Alabama told Causey that the Fort Drum spouses collected the most donations from a single source.
"I would like to thank all of my fellow Army wives (who) went above and beyond to lend a hand," Hale said. "It's incredible to see so many people come together to unite for one great cause."