Donations help tornado survivors salvage Christmas
Volunteers have descended on tornado-stricken Mayfield, in the US state of Kentucky, to provide hot food and drinks to the survivors, and hand out toys for the children
Volunteers have descended on tornado-stricken Mayfield, in the US state of Kentucky, to provide hot food and drinks to the survivors, and hand out toys for the children

Mayfield (United States) (AFP) - With the help of volunteers from around the country, families in western Kentucky will be able to celebrate Christmas on Saturday, two weeks after a string of tornadoes wrought a path of deadly destruction.

"We're just trying to provide Christmas," said Jimmy Finch, a volunteer from the neighboring US state of Tennessee who came to Mayfield the day after the twisters hit.

"I haven't kept a total tally of how many people we have fed," Finch said. "We just encourage everybody to keep coming back."

Under a big yellow tent set up in a parking lot, the Scientology Volunteer Minister group also serves hot food and drink on a cold, windy Christmas Eve.

"It's a very difficult time for everybody," said Chad Adams, a member of the organization. "We're trying to make sure everybody eats."

He estimates that they have served over 30,000 meals since the disaster struck, and invites everyone around to keep coming back to have food and hot chocolate.

At other sites, organizations distributed toys to families who have lost everything, hoping to provide some joy amidst the tragedy.

In the nearby town of Benton, Shane Cornwell dressed up as Santa for his volunteer shift at a donation site, where boxes of toys and food lined the walls of the local Elk Lodge.

Outside, volunteers painted Christmas tree ornaments, while local families impacted by the storm collected toys from bins separated by age range.

At least 79 people lost their lives in the tornados, which passed over several states from the night of December 10 to the early morning of December 11.

"The scope and scale of this destruction is almost beyond belief," said US President Joe Biden after touring the damage in Mayfield.