WEAU donation drive collects more than $35,000 for tornado victims

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Throughout Wednesday, hundreds of vehicles made their way into the WEAU 13 news parking lot for the Tornado Relief Fund Donation Drive, organized by WEAU.

"One of our staff members actually brought up the idea that we need to do something for those folks up in the tornado zone," said WEAU 13 News General Manager Terry McHugh.

Volunteers with WEAU, Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake, and the Barron County Sheriff's Department collected monetary donations.

From loose change to large checks, each donation will go to help those impacted by the May 16th tornado that devastated parts of Barron and Rusk Counties.

"Tremendous effort for people 60 miles away to help us with the disaster, and we said neighbors helping neighbors and that includes Eau Claire to Barron County and that's what it's all about," said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald.

"Why did you want to give it to us to help with the tornado victims? Just to help," said seven-year-old Dylan Bilda.

Club's Choice Fundraising dropped off a big check totaling nearly $3,500. Customers made donations, the owners matched it, and now it will be matched again for a nearly $7,000 donation.

"Just absolutely blown away by the passion this community has and the way they come together in the midst of tragedy to help each other," said Ashley Rayment with Red Cedar Church.

Donors received a free coffee from Mega! Holiday and a free ice cream sundae from Monk's Bar and Grill in Eau Claire.

The more than $35,000 collected Wednesday at WEAU is being matched by Rice Lake native Foster Friess, bringing the total to more than $70,000.

"A great testament to the community I think we live in, and very happy we could help out," said McHugh.

To each person who donated, thank you.

You can continue to make donations through our website.

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