To raise needed funds and items, WBHF joined forces with The Daily Tribune News and Cartersville UNCUT to conduct the benefit from 7 to 10 a.m. Broadcasted live on WBHF 1450 AM radio, listeners were encouraged to place pledges by calling 770-386-1450 or drop off donations at the station, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville.
"The word I've been using is 'overwhelmed,'" said Matt Santini, Cartersville mayor and WBHF station manager, adding the donations still were being tallied as of Wednesday at 3 p.m. "Going into this with the kindness of the Cartersville-Bartow Community Foundation and the other two anonymous foundations to match, I figured if we raised $5,000 and were able to bring in $14,000 for the community I thought that'd be great.
"I'm just totally blown away by the community's response, just the generosity of everybody. ... It's my understanding that [the] money is going to get into the hands in quick fashion to those storm victims either in the form of gift cards or distributed to the [United Way] agencies that can get those resources to those people fast. Again, it's worth noting that this is a special fund that's been set up by the United Way that 100 percent of the money that's raised goes directly to these local tornado victims."
Along with monetary donations, items such as personal hygiene products also were accepted. For those unable to participate in the radio-thon, Cartersville UNCUT volunteers collected funds totaling more than $3,000 at intersections in downtown Cartersville. All of the donations -- items and monetary -- are being delivered to the local United Way, which will distribute the contributions to those in need.
"A lot of these people have lost everything," said Brenda Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County, via phone to WBHF Wednesday morning. "I was out there and I have never really experienced ... walking through so many different areas of a small community that was really devastated, and helping people find -- there were people walking that couldn't even put their children down because they had no shoes and were walking through the forest trying to find shoes to put on their children's feet just so they could put them down and looking for pictures -- anything because there was absolutely nothing left.
"It was amazing. ... the devastation is incredible and I hope that everybody understands how lucky we are that we didn't have any fatalities because I know in Ringgold they performed services for a family of four that were killed there. And I think we're so lucky that we didn't lose anybody. But we definitely need the funds, and they're going to go straight into the hands of these victims and quickly."
Following the radio-thon, WBHF and The Daily Tribune News -- 251 S. Tennessee St. in Cartersville -- still will continue to serve as collection sites for the United Way. Individuals also can donate directly to the United Way by calling 770-386-1677 or dropping items off at 140 Douglas St., Suite 104, in Cartersville.