The Salvation Army holds multi-city distribution of toys, gift cards, and food boxes in Western Kentucky

By: Shelley Henderson

Cars lined up in the early morning on Dec. 21 at Mayfield High School in Mayfield, Kentucky, where The Salvation Army’s Operation Christmas was stationed to help people impacted by the tornadoes that ripped through the region on Dec. 10. Volunteers, Salvation Army officers, and employees were there to distribute gift cards, Christmas toys, hygiene kits, and food boxes in the drive-through operation. In addition, The Salvation Army’s multi-day relief effort was mirrored in four other storm-damaged communities across the region.

“As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we want to share the joy of His birth with the people who were in the path of this storm,” said Major Ann Penhale, Divisional Leader of The Salvation Army of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Tonya came to The Salvation Army’s distribution site in Mayfield for assistance and shared the story of her family’s devastating financial setbacks because of the storm.

 “Our house had damage, and the power was out for over a week,” Tonya said. “We have family close by who didn’t lose power, but they are in quarantine with Covid right now so we couldn’t stay with them. I spent all of my savings on a hotel room for me and my kids. I am out of a job right now because of the storm. I can find another job, but in the meantime, we are almost out of money.”

Tonya had other immediate financial setbacks from the storm – things you don’t think about. Two of her tires have to be replaced – they were destroyed the night of the storm by the debris on the streets. Her perishable food was ruined and has to be replaced. Almost daily, she has had to make the 35-mile trip from Paducah, where she is staying, back to Mayfield, and gas is expensive. The list of unexpected expenses goes on, but she remains hopeful and is helping people in her hometown who have lost even more.

“Thank you for being here,” said Tonya. “There are times you can’t do anything but help your neighbor and pray. You all are an answer to our prayers-you are doing God’s work.”

God’s love is being shown through the hands and hearts of the people – the givers, the volunteers, the workers, the community itself.  As the song says, ”Human kindness is overflowing and I think it’s gonna rain today.”

“To the many people who have given to The Salvation Army’s disaster response – thank you and God bless you,” said Major Penhale. “You are the hands and feet of Jesus – we are here to share your generosity and love with the people who are rebuilding from this storm.”

Through Dec. 21, The Salvation Army has provided 19,675 meals, 12,664 drinks, and 18,359 snacks to individuals and families affected by tornadoes across Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Mississippi, while also consulting with emotional and spiritual care for more than 2,100 people.

For more information on The Salvation Army’s continued response, visit or To make a financial gift to support ongoing disaster relief efforts, visit or donate by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.