Gift cards benefit storm victims
by Shaka S. Lias
May 08, 2011 | 3406 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kathy and John Blasengame apply for a United Way gift card with Kay House who works for North Bartow Community Service, a United Way agency partner. The gift cards were funded through United Way donations and the recent Radio-thon held by WBHF, The Daily Tribune News and Cartersville UNCUT. 
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Last week a Radio-thon raised more than $44,000 to assist victims affected by a tornado that hit Bartow County on April 27.

WBHF radio, together with The Daily Tribune News and Cartersville UNCUT held the benefit from 7 to 10 a.m.

Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, who also is station manager at WBHF, said everyone did their part.

"It was a real success for everyone that contributed," he said. "I'm really pleased that we were able to help those affected by the storm."

On Saturday morning the United Way began distributing those funds through Visa gift cards to storm victims.

Janet Queen, Chairman for United Way of Bartow County, said by late afternoon $19,500 was given to 63 families.

"Our goal and commitment to Bartow County and to the people that helped us pledge this money is to get it into the hands of these people," Queen said.

In addition to the money raised, she said an anonymous donor gave a substantial amount.

Shannon Woodall said the gift cards are right on time. Her family was down to paying bills or buying what it needed.

"It just means a lot because so many people care and are willing to help," Woodall said.

Woodall's home was damaged in the storm, but not destroyed.

She said it's the simple things people take for granted. With the card she is now able to buy food and gas. She calls it a blessing.

"There are still good people in the world," she said. "Through all the stuff that's going on, it means a lot," Woodall said.

David Paul, with Cartersville UNCUT, said he spoke with a few people that lost everything. He said the Radio-thon was a good idea. "I'm glad we did it," he said.

Past chairman of United Way Rhonda Ryan said it's all about making a difference.

"We're going to meet those immediate needs because we know there is a gap between insurance and when you get payments," she said.

Queen agrees. She said they understand the waiting period in receiving a claim.

"In the meantime, you might need medication, shoes or gas," she said.

"That's the beauty about these cards, they can purchase what they need, and it's not just us taking a bag of supplies," Queen said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency also are available to assist storm victims, as are the Department of Family and Children Services.

Bill Edge, with GEMA said they are there to help begin the process of applying for disaster relief.

Meanwhile, he encourages storm victims to register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or by mobile at m.fema.gov.

Both FEMA and GEMA will be at the Clarence Brown Conference Center starting Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

United Way will be there Monday starting at 10 a.m. Queen said they don't have set times yet, but can guarantee someone will be there four to six hours during the weekday.

"We will have a presence here and give until it's all gone," Queen said of the funds.

She said a list of addresses directly affected by the storm have been provided as a cross-reference.

Queen said the conference center is a perfect place for everyone to access.

In order to get assistance, those applying should provide the following required documents: driver's license or other valid ID showing residence within the affected area and a utility bill confirming residence within the affected area.

DTN Publisher Johnette Dawson said she was overwhelmed with the community's generosity during the Radio-thon.

"Wednesday's Radio-thon made it possible for United Way of Bartow County to distribute about $45,000 to recent local storm victims. It was an extreme honor to be able to participate not only as a donor but a sponsor of the event as well."