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Goodwill and Generosity Abound: How to Help Joplin and Other Tornado Affected Communities

by Samantha Jo Warfield

The last few months have seen a deadly and historic series of tornadoes tear through much of the Southern and Midwestern U.S.

There was an outbreak in April, and then record flooding from the Mississippi River. This month, the town of Joplin, MO, was at the center of what is the 8th deadliest tornado on record, by preliminary counts.

As is the case with many disasters – natural and man-made – Americans have emerged as a shining example of the human spirit. Goodwill and generosity abound; volunteers are traveling hundreds of miles to support communities they are strangers to.

A few of our very own AmeriCorps members are also on the ground. We’ll have a blog post on their efforts soon, but for now you can follow their reports via Twitter at @AmeriCorpsSTL.

How to Help

For those that want to help, disaster recovery experts have established some simple ways to contribute by volunteering or making donations.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Donate or volunteer

  • The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency has established a web portal to coordinate donations and volunteers. Cash is preferred because it gives voluntary agencies the most flexibility to obtain the most-needed resources and pumps money into the local economy to help businesses recover as well.
  • Those in Missouri can also call 2-1-1 in most areas for information on volunteering their time or making a donation. This 2-1-1 service, operated by the United Way, is available through much of Missouri. For those who are out of state or unable to get through on 2-1-1, call 1-800-427-4626.
  • Volunteers with medical skills and experience are especially needed and those interested can learn more and register online here.
  • You can also use the search engine on to find volunteer opportunities, or check out Citizen Corps was created to help coordinate volunteer activities that will make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to emergency situations.
  • Please remember that unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable foodstuffs require agencies to redirect valuable resources away from providing services to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors


  • Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information, or referrals are urged to call 2-1-1, or 800-427-4626, or visit the Red Cross to find an open shelter. For individuals with a hearing loss, call 7-1-1 or use Video Relay Service to reach 2-1-1 or 800-427-4626.

Other Resources

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