Composite of eight images of a tornado shot in Kansas in 2016. (Wikimedia Commons)

How to help victims of the tornadoes

The tornadoes that raged through six states on Friday night left devastation and death in their wake — 88 deaths to date, 74 of those in Kentucky. The scenes of communities destroyed and families displaced are heartbreaking, especially during the holiday season.

But just as powerful are the stories of neighbors pulling together to rebuild and comfort one another — efforts that we can all be part of.

Both the New York Times and USA Today have published comprehensive lists of organizations that are reaching out for donations and volunteers.

According to the Times, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has established the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to collect donations for victims in the western portion of the state, and the Pittsburgh-based Brother’s Brother Foundation is accepting donations to help food banks in Arkansas and Kentucky. If you’re inclined to put boots on the ground and help in person, the Kentucky State Police in Mayfield are asking interested volunteers to call 270-331-1979. Mayfield, of course, was arguably the town most affected by the storms.

USA Today lists a number of Kentucky-based efforts. The University of Kentucky College of Medicine has established a GoFundMe page collecting donations at gofundme.com/f/ukcom-student-effort-for-tornado-relief-in-ky, and the United Way of Kentucky has set up a donation site specifically for tornado victims at uwky.org/tornado.

Both publications list national initiatives to help tornado victims. AmeriCares, a health-focused relief and development organization, has sent an emergency response team to Kentucky and has offered assistance to health care facilities in several states, says the Times. The organization is accepting donations to help fund these efforts. CARE, an organization that works with impoverished communities, is collecting money to provide food, cash and clean water to the tornado victims. And, adds the Times, GoFundMe has created a centralized hub for verified fund-raisers.

If you’re interested in helping but cannot offer funding or volunteer support, there’s the option of donating blood. Contact your local chapter of the Red Cross for details.