Donation drive begins for children devastated by tornado

Published 7:06 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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EDGARD — Last week’s tornadic weather ended in devastation for the Preston/Alexander family, and four young children are in need of the community’s support this Christmas season as they cope with the unexpected loss of their grandmother, their home and all of their belongings.

An EF-2 tornado that touched down in Killona on December 14 claimed the life of 56-year-old Allison Alexander, a devoted grandmother and a pillar of the River Parishes community. Her grandchildren – a 6-year-old girl and three boys ages 10, 8, and 4 — were in the trailer with her during the traumatic event. The youngest boy sustained the most severe injuries and is currently in a wheelchair, while the other three children were left with bumps and bruises.

Chantell Walker, principal at West St. John Elementary, said the Rams family and the close-knit West Bank community immediately jumped into action to provide aid to the students. A relief drive for the Preston/Alexander family kicked off this week, and all are invited to contribute clothes, shoes, toiletries, winter coats, hats, socks, gift cards or monetary donations.

“Everything happened so fast, so we were trying to first make sure all of the children were safe. We were trying to find the quickest way to organize a relief effort to assist the family during this time since we are going to be out of school for Christmas,” Walker said. “We sent out a flyer to our school community and have reached out to area businesses also.”

Requested sizes are as follows:

  • Pre-K Boy: 4T/5T clothes, shoes 2-2.5
  • Kindergarten Girl: Size 6 clothes, shoes 11-12
  • Second Grade Boy: 7/8 clothes, shoes 9/10
  • Fifth Grade Boy: 28/30 pants, adult small shirts, shoes 6.5

Family member Dr. Catina Alexander said the children are physically safe, but the emotional wounds left by the tornado will be deep and long-lasting.

“Right now, they are all pretty shaken up just based on the traumatic experience. They basically need everything because they lost everything from underwear to socks, clothes, you name it. We realize they are going to need counseling based on the way things happened,” Alexander said.

While donations had not yet come through early this week, Walker and Alexander were confident the West Bank will band together to help a family in need.

“The community is small and close-knit, and their grandmother was such a pillar of the community,” Walker said. “She took care of them, brought them to school, and she was such a positive person.”

Donations for the family can be dropped off at 123 Alexander Court in Edgard.

“I think everyone is in the process of getting donations together to drop off,” Alexander said.

For more information or to arrange a donation drop-off, please contact Alexander at 504-435-8337.