Students reach out to help tornado victims


A neighborhood in the Devonshire subdivision of Washington, Ill., is left in ruins after a tornado tore through the northern part of the town on Sunday. Members of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, are collecting items for care packages to send to the victims of the tornado. Student volunteers will also work with the Red Cross.

By James Green

In response to the weekend’s outbreak of tornadoes in Illinois, Alpha Phi Omega will collect donations for relief packages for the victims.

Will Wight, Alpha Phi Omega member and junior mechanical engineering major, has been storm watching for five years, and he followed the storms in the news over the weekend. Wight had been planning on organizing storm relief efforts for spring 2014, but he chose to start early due to the destruction wreaked by the weekend tornadoes.

“I’ve seen firsthand the destruction of tornadoes in the past,” Wight said. “So I thought of doing this ahead of time.”

Eight people are confirmed to have died in the tornadoes. Among the hardest hit areas in Illinois was Washington, where Gov. Pat Quinn surveyed the destruction Monday and where Alpha Phi Omega members plan to send supplies next week.

Wight said Alpha Phi Omega members used their own money to buy 427 items for the care packages Monday.

The care packages are planned to include basic need items such as hygiene items, blankets and first aid products. Items will be collected through Nov. 24.

Packages will be going to Diamond and Coal City on Friday, and an Alpha Phi Omega member will bring supplies to Washington the following week.

Krista Fassola, junior special education major and Alpha Phi Omega member, created and distributed a flier on her Facebook page on Sunday to get word out about the effort.

Alpha Phi Omega volunteers will also travel to Coal City to work with the Red Cross on Friday.

“We want to provide a sense of comfort and community to these people,” said Colette Wehrli, Alpha Phi Omega president and senior accounting major. “We want to show our efforts can go beyond little DeKalb.”

Wehrli said the group’s efforts to help Washington fit into their four C’s: chapter, college, community and country.

Editor’s Note: City Editor Jessi Haish contributed to this article.