- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

GIFFORD, Ill. (AP) - Hundreds of donated trees are headed to the tornado-damaged central Illinois village of Gifford, which also has collected nearly $550,000 in donations.

The trees are expected to arrive this spring and fall to replace trees that were uprooted during the Nov. 17 tornadoes that swept through Gifford and leveled about 70 homes, The News-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1f9A8av ). The Champaign County Farm Bureau and a nursery in Toledo are donating the trees.

The donation was announced Monday during a community meeting in Gifford at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Christina Gann, operations manager at the church’s tornado-relief site, said the community meetings served as a kind of support group.

“People are in here, signing up and doing the things they need to do, but they’re also meeting up again,” Gann said. “All of these neighbors, they’ve lost touch with each other. They’re not living next door or down the street anymore, and this is a time where they can get back together.”

Gifford State Bank President Tony McLain said the Gifford Relief Fund has received more than $542,000 in donations. He said about $350,000 has been allocated to residents at $1,800 per application.

McLain said rebuilding grants are available through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and Habitat for Humanity.

Gifford is a small farming community of about 1,000 residents.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com


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