It's just old hat to Willie Ray Fairley at this point.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette says the proprietor of "Willie Ray's Q Shack" in Cedar Rapids is heading off to help people, again. This time, it's Kentucky and other parts of the south struck by recent tornadoes.

He first started his humanitarian efforts right here in Cedar Rapids, giving free meals to folks in his home city who lost power from the August 2020 derecho. Then, it was Texas, doing the same for residents there dealing with winter storms and power outages the likes of which they had rarely if ever seen. Now, Willie Ray, without a second thought, is going to Kentucky.

The Q Shack in Cedar Rapids will be closed from Thursday to Monday while Fairley makes the trip. As of Monday, he thinks he has what he needs but is always looking to take more help with him. You can donate through his Venmo (@WillieRaysQShack) or drop donations off in person before he leaves at Willie Ray’s Q Shack, 288 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE in Cedar Rapids.

Another area group is helping, too

Similarly, Bridge Under the Bridge started out as a group feeding derecho victims but has expanded into a bigger charitable role in the community. They recently worked with a repair shop in Cedar Rapids to fix a broken car window for free, and now the Robinsons are also on their way to Kentucky. Their reason for going to help is a little more personal, according to Bridget Williams-Robinson

We actually watched the devastation happen. We have family in Kentucky and Illinois, not where the disaster happened, but not far from it

Drop off donations for Bridge Under the Bridge at one of the following locations by December 20:

  • Believers In Grace, 8600 C Ave NE in Cedar Rapids. Monday through Saturday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • True Value on Mt. Vernon Rd during store hours.
  • Clean Core Inc. at 1722 Southview Dr. NW in Cedar Rapid at any time.

The things they are asking for according to the Gazette are water, diapers and wipes, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, blankets, batteries, non-perishable food, gift cards to Walmart or Sam’s Club to purchase gasoline for generators, gift cards for Kroger and Meijer, which can be purchased online, toys, and fun holiday items for children this Christmas like Barbie dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals or gingerbread house kits.

Additionally, Robinson says you can donate toys to kids from families who are being displaced at the worst possible time, Christmas. They encourage the donation of small toys — think items like Barbies, Legos, stuffed animals, and Hot Wheels. The last displacement estimate relayed to her was 250 families.

Hy-Vee is sending more help from the Hawkeye State

Hy-Vee of Iowa will also take a caravan of water and food to the affected regions, according to Iowa's News Now, who says 37 workers in a fleet of 19 vehicles will be providing 327,000 bottles of water and 220,000 snack bars and breakfast items to help victims of the devastating tornadoes.

Here's a very easy way for you to help

Finally, you can simply donate through the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Discover other ways to help and donate to tornado victims in the midwest and south here

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