Thanksgiving meal brings cheer to Washington tornado victims

A little holiday cheer comes to tornado-stricken Washington, Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn, a local congressman and the Chicago Blackhawks Charities helped provide a Thanksgiving meal.

They shared a meal, a few laughs and a lot of stories about the day Washington was hit by the tornado.

Gary McBride talked about his neighbor Jeff Siltman. The two were outside their homes doing lawn work on November 17 when Jeff saw the twister coming and helped Gary and his wife to safety.

There were many stories like this during the lunch at Five Points Community Center. It gave tornado survivors, first responders and volunteers a much needed break from the difficult task of rebuilding.

Congressman Aaron Shock organized the event that fed more than 1,000 people.

“The rebuilding is going to take several years, but what’s important that we keep these relationships strong,” Shock said.

Quinn attended the event along with the president of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jon McDonough, who presented a $200,000 donation from the hockey team to the city’s relief fund.

One 6-year-old tornado survivor got the thrill of a lifetime from McDonough: tickets for a game.

A survivors song and video about the tornado brought some to tears.

Volunteer Nick Pacelli says the disaster, brought a close knit town, even closer together.

“The message is that, you know, you’re not alone in this. You’re together in this. And, we’re not just going to be here one day for you, we’re not just going to be here a week for you, we’re going to be here every day,” he said.

Donation sites are available beginning Tuesday, November 26.

Individuals should be prepared to unload their own items. These locations will accept bulk and individual donations.

Hagerty Brothers

1506 Detweiller Drive in Peoria

8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Catholic Charities

1825 NE Adams Street in Peoria

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Monetary donations are being accepted at all branches of Morton Community Bank, including Washington Community Bank, and can be made to the Washington Tornado Relief Fund.

Call 309-444-1700 for more information.

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