As February of 2017 became March and residents of Perry County were reeling from the shock of an F4 tornado,

United Way of Southeast Missouri (UWSEMO) was establishing an emergency fund to help them. Currently, almost

$50,000 has been donated to the fund in the week following the February 28th tornado

that took one life and countless homes in Perryville.


Donations have come from throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois,

according to Elizabeth Shelton, Executive Director of United Way of Southeast Missouri.

“We and the people of Perryville have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of help

and concern. Online donations began arriving as soon as we posted in our social media

Wednesday morning that we had established the fund and 100% of donations would go

to Perry County. Then our local media helped tremendously by reporting on it, and

checks flooded in. We got over $4,000 in checks just the first day!”

According to Shelton, the fund received a huge bonus when KSDK, the NBC affiliate in

St. Louis, contacted UWSEMO to see if they were interested in using their phone bank

for a phone-athon. The station was receiving calls from viewers wanting to help, and

KSDK had heard about United Way’s emergency fund for Perryville. Shelton said, “Of

course we dropped everything to make it happen!”

United Way staff and volunteers answered six phones set up in the main floor of the

station in downtown St. Louis, collecting $18,000 in just three hours. KSDK ran the


March 10, 2017

Contact: Elizabeth Shelton

O) 573-334-9634

C) 573-270-4556

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

number to call every half hour of their newscasts at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 and interviewed

Shelton about how the money will be distributed.

According to Shelton, “Our partner agencies that are trained in helping in emergencies

provided immediate assistance and are assessing need— First Call for Help, the

American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other organizations. United Way also has

a student fund in the public schools in every county we serve, so these donations also

will help Perry County students.”

UWSEMO and other area nonprofits comprise a Long-Term Recovery Committee

(LTRC) of organizations committed to providing funds, personnel, expertise and/or

equipment in this type of situation. Many other nonprofits are receiving donations of

food, money, clothing, and household items for Perryville. Working with community

leaders, the LTRC is assessing ongoing, long-term needs and resources to determine

the best method of helping the community. Thus, there is no deadline for closing the

Perryville fund, which will remain open indefinitely.

Shelton explains, “Rebuilding a community is a long process. We are doing what United

Way does best—working with a collaborative network to bring resources to where they

are needed most. And the people of the Heartland are doing what they do best—helping

their neighbors. The response has been humbling and heartwarming. We are extremely

grateful and proud of the caring people in this community.”

People can contribute to the Perryville Emergency Fund by visiting; texting “Perryville” to 41444; calling the United Way

office at 573-334-9634 and donating over the phone, or mailing a check to United Way

of Southeast Missouri, Attn: Perryville, 430A Broadway Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

63701. “Perryville” should be written in the check memo.

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