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Volunteers Using Facebook To Help Mass. Tornado Victims

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Tornado Aide Facebook Page
WBZ-TV's Jim Armstrong Jim Armstrong
Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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SOUTHBRIDGE (CBS) – Amanda Mello and her two small children lost new their home the same day they moved in.

“We moved in a few hours before the tornado hit,” explains the Fall River native. “I was in the closet setting some stuff up and my power went out. I went to go check on the kids and I saw the tornado out there.”

She hid in the bathroom of her Southbridge apartment, and when she emerged, her car was destroyed and her house was unlivable.

Mass.Gov: Tornado Recovery

This afternoon, she found herself at the United Lens warehouse on Worcester Street, filling up bins with pasta, cookies and apple juice. It’s strangers’ charity, and Mello feels awkward accepting it “because there’s so many people out there who are probably worse off than I am,” she said, “but I have to take care of my family.”

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

The people of central Massachusetts have no qualms about offering support, and it’s those grassroots efforts that are most impressive.

A Facebook group called “Tornado Aide” has more than 800 members as of Tuesday afternoon. It’s an incredible resource for anyone looking for help, and for anyone looking to help. Huge master lists of volunteers, phone numbers, items donated and items needed — it’s all organized by people who are volunteering their time and energy. These are people keeping track of what needs to be done, and doing it.

The owner of the Compatible Canine pet store at 29 Brookfield Road in Fiskdale has turned half of her building into a makeshift warehouse. Donations are coming in and going out at an amazing pace.

Photos: Tornadoes Tear Through Massachusetts

“People have been coming in here who have lost everything, and asking for very little,” said Faye Sweeney, one of the volunteers and administrators of the Facebook site. She’s in awe of how quickly people respond to pleas for help.

“When something comes up that we need, we post it [on the Facebook page] and within minutes, literally, we have deliveries here,” Sweeney said.

Donate: The CBS Boston Cares Massachusetts Tornado Relief Fund

Back at the United Lens warehouse, more donations are coming in, and more are leaving in trunks and backseats. Amelia Peloquin sits at a donated laptop, trying to coordinate who’s doing what, when, and where.

“People are finding the [Facebook] group and they’re saying, ‘I want to know what I should donate, please tell me'”, Peloquin said. She even created another Facebook page, one specifically for residents of Southbridge.

“I love my community,” said the Southbridge native, “and I am so pleased and proud to see how people are coming together on this.”

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