Graphic reading: Superintendents Huddle, Disaster Recovery, Dec. 16, 2021Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass met with local superintendents on Dec. 16 to ensure the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) addresses the real-time needs of districts most affected by the Dec. 10-11 tornadoes.

Superintendents on the call expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received over the past few days, but most of them are asking for donations to be put on hold for the time being.

“We have received tremendous support from everywhere, both locally and across the state and even nationally,” Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said. “Right now, there’s nothing we need.”

Clayton and his counterparts said their attention has shifted to the long-term recovery process.

“Obviously, we’re going to need a lot of support in the future,” said Mayfield Independent Superintendent Joe Henderson. “We have asked to cut off donations at this point. Those (donations) will be important a week and a half or two weeks from now. But, right now, we’re overwhelmed to the point we really can’t accept any donations as far as supplies.”

The tornadoes demolished much of the low-income housing areas in Warren County and Mayfield, Clayton and Henderson said.

“We were hit in two primary areas,” Clayton said. “One area was a high-poverty area. Because of that, we know the recovery effort will be much more challenging and significant for those individuals, many of them being students.”

“The kids that are most in need are the kids now that absolutely have no roof over their heads,” Henderson added.

Gretchen Wetzel, executive director of the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative (WKEC), sat in on the call for Dawson Springs Independent Superintendent Leonard Whalen. While surrounding districts have asked for donations to pause, Dawson Springs still is in need of various items, including:

  • Laundry detergent;
  • Flashlights;
  • Batteries;
  • Sugar;
  • Flour;
  • Gatorade;
  • Salt;
  • Coffee; and
  • Underclothing.

Wetzel said donations can be made to directly to WKEC. A mailing address and physical address are available on WKEC’s webpage.

For individuals interested in donating money, Gov. Andy Beshear has established the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to assist those impacted by the tornadoes and the severe weather system. All donations to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund are tax-deductible, and donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes after donating.

First Lady Britainy Beshear also has put together a toy drive for children in Western Kentucky. On Thursday, KDE’s Chief Communications Officer, Toni Konz Tatman, joined First Lady Beshear at Broadbent Arena in Louisville, where thousands of toys currently are being stored before they will be delivered to communities in Western Kentucky.

As of Dec. 16, Konz Tatman said over 70,000 toys and gift cards have been donated.

Toys, books, electronic gift cards and $25 VISA or MasterCard gift cards are eligible to be donated for children ranging from infants to teens. For more information on the drive and how to donate, visit the Western Kentucky Toy Drive webpage.