Late Friday night, the deadliest tornadoes in recent memory tore through the American heartland, leaving thousands without a home and many facing the elements without adequate clothing. Chabad emissaries in Kentucky are leading an effort to supply much-needed winter clothing and fresh water to families who lost everything.
“When Shabbat ended, we heard about the tragedy in Mayfield and the other towns in the tornado’s path,” said Rabbi Avrohom Litvin, regional director of Chabad in Kentucky, on Saturday night. “Our hearts ache for the victims, and we are coordinating immediate relief.”
On Monday afternoon, two trucks bringing water, food, and warm clothing were welcomed by devastated towns in the southeastern region of Kentucky. Bearing the logo of Chabad’s Project Friendship, the trucks had to navigate a labyrinth of blocked roads before finally delivering the invaluable cargo to those who lost their homes to the tornado.
Chabad was uniquely positioned to help. Project Friendship, Chabad of Kentucky’s social service arm, sprung from a small 2018 educational project to promote giving. Today, it distributes seven million dollars worth of goods to needy families each year. When disaster struck, some 600 pallets of brand new clothing and essential goods were ready at Project Friendship’s massive warehouse.
On Saturday night, the Chabad community sprung into action. “The Red Cross told us that the top priority was getting fresh water to the people there,” says Rabbi Chaim Litvin, who has been organizing the relief efforts. Working with the Israeli consul in Atlanta and multiple generous local companies, dozens of pallets of water were secured for this purpose. For fifteen hours, Project Friendship’s volunteers turned out to load the water, together with pallet-loads of blankets, warm winter boots, and children’s coats, onto trucks bound for the disaster zone.
“It’s freezing and wet out there,” Chaim Litvin explains. “In the confusion and rush to find safety, people don’t have time to grab adequate winter clothing or food.” Chabad’s trucks delivered supplies to Mayfield at the behest of the Red Cross before heading out to smaller towns that had received less help.
“Our deepest thanks go out to Ambassador Kraft and the University of Kentucky Athletic Department for their partnership in this crucial effort,” Rabbi Chaim Litvin posted to Facebook. “Thank you to the Project Friendship team and all the volunteers that came out to prepare the pallets.”