A radiothon to aid those affected by the EF-3 tornado that tore through northwest Georgia last week hosted by WBHF 1450 AM, Cartersville UNCUT and The Daily Tribune News was distributed by the Georgia News Network and aired in full by WTRP in Lagrange and WPAX in Thomasville. CBS 46 Atlanta also was in attendance Tuesday at the WBHF 1450 AM studios to help spread the word.
“I continue to be overwhelmed by the people that step forward,” said WBHF Station Manager Matt Santini. “Some give a little and some an awful lot, and any amount is going to the right place — it’s going to help people. Being a part of a community like this, seeing people reach out to each other in a spirit of giving and helping out is, quite honestly, deeply moving.
“There have been so many people that have done so much, but one that has really stood out in my mind is the Cartersville middle-schoolers took up a collection at school and brought by $509. There were a lot of things that got to me this morning and that was certainly one of them.”
The $32,682.64 raised Tuesday was due in part to generous matching pledges from individuals, companies and organizations, including two matching contributions for $2,500, three at $1,000 and two for $500.
Funds raised by the radiothon will be distributed by the United Way of Bartow County specifically for help in the wake of last week’s tornado, which damaged more than 400 buildings and left one dead, with a second death occurring this week attributed by the victim’s family to injuries sustained during the storm.
Nicole Hughes, owner of C&C Gutters, volunteered Tuesday to take part in the bucket brigade at intersections downtown collecting donations from motorists. Hughes has employees and family living in Adairsville and the outpouring of support she saw Tuesday reminded her why she moved her family to Bartow.
“Seeing everyone give, seeing your friends come by and seeing everyone give for the common good just makes me excited to live here. That’s one of the things we moved here for, is that down-home feeling,” Hughes said. “Bartow County is really great about pulling together. Everyone has their own problems and the economy is tough right now, but everybody was just handing money out left and right — it was a great thing to see.”
Relief efforts began in earnest over the weekend with more than 1,600 volunteers Saturday and about 500 Sunday showing up to lend a hand in the cleanup process. Immediate efforts have focused on environmental safety issues: making sure homes are secure, utilities are restored and roads are cleared of debris.
This week, a human-needs assessment will take place to fully realize the number of displaced residents and the needs of those that lost clothing, vehicles and jobs as a result of the tornado.
Once the assessment is complete, the United Way of Bartow County will work in conjunction with North Bartow Community Services and the American Red Cross to effectively administer aid with the use of donations like those made Tuesday during the radiothon.
The 7 to 10 a.m. radiothon was paired with volunteers on the street to raise funds Tuesday, but those still wishing to give can do so by bringing donations by the WBHF studio at 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville or by calling the United Way of Bartow County at 770-386-1677.
Local media partners were encouraged to come together following the recent severe weather, in part, because of the success of the tornado relief radiothon of 2011.
“We’re a community that tends to look out for each other and drawing on the success of past radiothons working with the Tribune and Cartersville UNCUT, it just seemed natural that we do the same this time around,” Santini said. “The radio station does radiothons a couple of times a year for various events and organizations and we can’t overdo them, but this certainly seemed a worthy endeavor.”