Monday, November 18, 2013


Donation list updated as of 7:00pm on Monday, November 18th, 2013.

Yesterday morning a line of horrific storms, accompanied by a number of tornadoes, terrorized the Midwest. One of these tornadoes passed through Washington, Illinois, where my little sister, Sara, lives with her husband, Jeff, and their two children; unfortunately for them, their home fell directly in the path of the tornado. Thankfully, Sara, Jeff, Lily, and Carter survived…not everyone in their city did. But when they climbed the stairs from their basement into their living room, they discovered that when the storm blew out of town, it took with it their entire house, their cars, and all of their belongings.
The tornado as it approached their neighborhood.
(They didn't take this photo - they were
safely tucked away in their basement.)
Their first car, which came to rest in their backyard.
Their neighborhood.
Their second car, which came to rest in a neighbor's backyard.
Their house, or what's left of it.
I have never been more grateful for my Red Cross training than I was yesterday morning. Thanks to years of experience responding to disasters of all shapes and sizes, I know how to transition from zero to sixty in a very short period of time and can separate "Erin, the devastated big sister" from "Erin, the Red Cross disaster responder" to allow myself to get done what needs to be done.

And here's what needs to be done.

First, if you're able to do so, please consider making a financial contribution to support Sara, Jeff, Lily, and Carter as they attempt to rebuild their lives. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would share this link with people who might be interested in donating but do not have access to the link ( via this blog or Facebook.

In the name of transparency, you should know that the donations will come to me first through my PayPal account. Once a week I will transfer the money collected - every single penny of every single donation - to Sara and Jeff.

Second, I will be collecting in-kind (physical) donations for Sara, Jeff, Lily, and Carter as well. The list below is where I'm starting today, but this list will certainly evolve in the coming days and weeks - both as items are donated and as Sara and Jeff get a better feel for what they need - and I will post updates frequently. (Please do not feel as though you need to go out and purchase these items new; instead, pass along gently-used items that members of your family have outgrown or no longer use.)
  • Size 3 diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Powder soy (dairy-free) baby formula
  • Bottles
  • Baby bowls, plates, and spoons 
  • Baby blankets
  • Size 12-18 month little boy clothes, pajamas, and socks
  • Size 12-18 month little boy winter coat, hat, and mittens
  • Size 2T/3T little girl clothes, pajamas, underwear, and socks
  • Size 2T/3T little girl winter coat, snow pants, hat, and mittens
  • Size 7 little girl toddler shoes, indoor boots, and outdoor boots 
  • Children's books
  • Small portable DVD player (I thought this might help keep Lily entertained while her baby brother is napping and her parents are on the phone with insurance companies, banks, etc.)
  • Children's DVDs
  • Adult and child toiletries 
If you would like to donate any of the items on this list, please email me at I will return your email as soon as possible to coordinate a time for me to pick them up (if you live near me), share with you a drop-off location (if you live near my parents), or work something else out (if you don't live near me or my parents).

A third option is to donate gift cards to stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, etc. so that Sara and Jeff can purchase what they need, when they need it most. If you would like to donate a gift card, please email me at so that we can coordinate how to best get these resources to Sara and Jeff.

THANK YOU. For the monetary and in-kind donations, the phone calls, the texts, the email and Facebook messages, the sincere offers to help in any way. I am so tremendously humbled by the outpouring of support we have received on Sara and Jeff's behalf.


I plan to provide daily updates here on the blog, so please check back tomorrow for more information on the Ekena family. 

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