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Archdiocese reaches out to tornado survivors

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March 14, 2012

When a line of severe weather invaded southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky March 2, the damage was as severe as it was unexpected.



Victims did not have to wait long for help as their neighbors and fellow survivors swung into action. Father Mike Leshney, pastor of St. Peter Parish in New Richmond and St. Mary Parish in Bethel has parishioners in the tornado-devastated area of Moscow, Ohio.


He expressed special thanks to Catholic Charities of the archdiocese in helping those in need, funded in part through the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal. He requested prayers, and if anyone wishes, to send/deliver non-perishables or monetary donations to St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Peter Church, 1192 Bethel-New Richmond Road, New Richmond, Ohio, 45157.



Also, donation containers for non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products are at the back of St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati. And the schools of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati not only took up the cause, but continue to fuel relief efforts almost two weeks after the storms struck.


“One of our students is related to some of the victims from West Liberty Kentucky, where most of the community suffered tremendous loss due to the March 2 tornadoes,” said St. William School kindergarten teacher Cindy Siebenburgen.


The students of St, William in Price Hill continue to collect needed supplies and food. ‘We are holding these items in the teacher’s lounge until Friday,” Siebenburgen said. “Some parents have offered to load up trucks to deliver all the items collected.”


St. William is also holding out-of-uniform day on March 15. The students are asked to donate at least a dollar in exchange for wearing “comfy clothes” to school that day.  All money raised from this event will be used to purchase gift cards.


In the weeks to come, they will be hosting a bake sale with baked goods donated by students and parents to raise money to buy Kroger gift cards. Lastly, the teachers will be participating in a LaRosa’s lunch day. LaRosa’s will donate a percentage of the total bill back, which will be used to purchase more gift cards.


The McAuley High School community has a reputation of service to others. Last week, one teacher with her classes made a special effort to help with tornado relief efforts to our neighbors in Kentucky who suffered so much devastation. Linda Goldbach’s theology classes collected toiletry items for the Crittenden tornado victims. The students put the items in small Easter buckets, and were able to collect 26 buckets of personal care supplies. They also included notes of prayer and support for those affected by the disaster.  Goldbach delivered the buckets to the Freestore Foodbank, where they were loaded onto a van and delivered to the victims.


A recurring theme in the storm drama is family connections. A Piqua Catholic School parent has family in West Liberty, Ky., one of the hardest hit areas.  When her mother went to check on their relatives the town was in desperate need of baby clothes and basic items. The school sent an e-mail to its families asking for donations of shoes, jeans, and baby clothing. Bags of donations, including new purchases, came into school.. Many of the items have already been delivered to those in need.


A graduate of St. Ursula Villa and his mother were victims of the March 2 tornado. Drew Niehoff and his mother, Linda, had a home was in Moscow and very little of it now stands. Linda Niehoff was able to salvage two truckloads of things, but lost all of their memories, photos, furniture, clothing, Christmas decorations and more. What remains of the home, it appears now, cannot be rebuilt due to the damage done to the foundation and structural damage to what remains standing.  The really difficult part is that as of Monday, the Red Cross pulled out since Ohio did not get FEMA money.


Although Linda Niehoff ‘s car was also destroyed, she has a rental and the insurance company has given her a check for a new car. Drew Niehoff is staying with a friend who lives close to McNicholas High School, and his mother is staying with her mom. Linda Niehoff is not sure what her next move is as it took her many years to rehab the home and finally was left with only one small room to complete.  She was using her home as a venue for weddings and outdoor parties. Adding to the Niehoff’s sadness is the loss of their dog, who had to be euthanized due to severe injuries sustained during the storms.


St. Ursula Villa’s student council, Chi Alpha Omega and National Junior Honor Society have developed a plan to help the Niehoff family. The school is asking that each child at the Villa either $2 or some type of gift certificate to help assist them. One teacher has even volunteered to have his hair shaved in a Mohawk style if the junior high is able to collect $1,000; the rest of the school will receive an out-of-uniform day.
Other activities designed to assist the storm victims include:


Students at St. Boniface School will be organizing and participating in two activities to raise money for tornado victims: In April, students will hold a raffle featuring donated items. Chances will be sold at lunchtime and at our parish fish fries on March 23 and 30.  All proceeds will be donated to benefit tornado victims. The St. Boniface Social Action Club will host its second annual “Souper” Supper in May. All year, club members have been making bowls, which they have glazed and fired in the school kiln. Patrons will buy a bowl and receive a soup and bread dinner. They may take their purchased bowls home with them. Last year, $400 was raised at this event.  All proceeds will go to ongoing relief efforts for tornado victims.


After hearing the news of the significant damage caused by the recent tornados in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, the student council at St. Joseph Consolidated School in Hamilton met to organize a school-wide response to this tragedy. The council, working with a teacher advisor, decided to organize a penny war to raise funds for the relief effort. Buckets labeled for each grade level have been placed in the school foyer. Each morning when student arrive, they strategically deposit their pennies, silver coins and dollars. The pennies add to the positive total for a particular grade and the silver coins and dollars to the negative total. The grade level with the largest positive total wins the “war.” The money raised through this effort will be donated to the American Red Cross.


Students at La Salle High School first held a prayer service for victims of the storms. They then completed a mission collection that will be donated to St. Peter in New Richmond and St. Mary in Bethel. They also collected supplies for the children and families. They will be donated to the victims of the tornado in Henryville, Indiana.


St. Mary Catholic School and PSR in Hillsboro is taking up food and personal items for the victims in Moscow and have tied it into their Lenten Devotion of Good Deeds and Operation Rice Bowl. They hope to take the food items down with a number of students within the next two weeks.


St. Louis School in Owensville partnered with the owner of a local restaurant to collect water. The owner of Uncle T’s restaurant in Owensville, picked up the water and non-perishable food items the school collected. Also, St. Louis School students had a penny drive last week that was coordinated by Student Council. Part of the proceeds from the penny drive are going to the tornado victims, while the remainder of the proceeds are going to an injured police officer. St. Louis Parish had a euchre tournament and dinner March 10, and the proceeds from that event also went to help the tornado victims.


St. Ignatius of Loyola School in Monfort Heights collected toiletries March 5-9 for tornado victims. The school was able to send three carloads of supplies to the victims. The supplies were dropped off at a local church in Moscow and will be donated to the families as needed.


To respond to the needs created by the recent tornadoes, Mount Notre Dame High School started its annual food drive on March 6 instead of later in the month.  Items can be donated through Clermont County St. Vincent de Paul, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Cincinnati, and Matthew 25 Ministries. Barrels are located outside MND’s main office. In addition to non-perishable food, they are also collecting cleaning supplies, personal care items, water, first aid supplies, diapers and formula., along with accepting monetary donations.


A weeklong penny war was declared at John Paul II Consolidated School to help those affected by tornados. All grade levels participated in the penny war by bringing in pennies and other monies to raise money for tornado victims. All the money raised from the penny war will be given to the Neediest Kids of All, a group collecting monetary donations to help children affected by the tornado.


At Our Lady of Grace School sixth grade teacher Steffenie Brueneman and her students have organized an emergency relief service project in response to the tornados. After researching what kind of assistance is needed, the sixth graders settled on collecting paper products (toilet paper, paper towels and tissues) for Matthew 25: Ministries. Each homeroom will count and organize the items collected. On March 15 the sixth grade students collected the items to sort and organize for transport to Matthew 25: Ministries.


Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School in Liberty Township will hold an out-of-uniform day and the money will be sent to the tornado victims.  This amounts to at least $400.  A student collected throughout his neighborhood and his parents went to Indiana to help the weekend of the tornado. The school has also prayed for the victims.


Students at the Summit Country Day School raised $4,150 to help tornado victims in Northern Kentucky. Much of the money was raised through individual $2 donations from students, although several adults also contributed. The money was used to buy $50 Wal-Mart cards. The cards were delivered March 12, to the Piner, Ky., Baptist Church, which is helping to lead the recovery effort in that area.


At Queen of Peace School in Hamilton students in grades four through eight are engaged in “Penny Wars” to raise money to donate to tornado relief efforts. Students put pennies in their jar and coins or paper money in other grades jars.  Silver coins or paper money cause the grade to lose that many pennies.


St. James of the Valley School will be working with the Greenhills’ Fire Department and Matthew 25:  Ministries to collect items for tornado victims. They will also be having a penny war between classes during the last two weeks of March. Initially, this money was to go to the Leukemia Society.  Now, half will go for tornado relief.



Pen Vettel, Purcell Marian class of ’89, coordinated with Walt Sweeney Ford to collect supplies for victims of the recent tornadoes, and members of the Purcell Marian community participated and spread the word via social media by asking others to do what they could, and to pass information along. Thanks to the Walt Sweeney Family, Vettel and her team had use of a couple vans to fill with supplies for tornado victims. In conjunction with Matthew 25 Ministries, word was spread that the greatest needs were water; personal care items and baby care items.


A staff member at Mother of Mercy, Judy Scarlato, visited Moscow last weekend with her daughter, Angela Hawley, a teacher at St. Ignatius. Scarlato spoke with Ted Hastings who is coordinating the collection of supplies for Moscow. The Scarlato family will be delivering three vanloads of supplies.

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