- Associated Press - Saturday, December 2, 2017

WASHINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A foundation that handled money for relief efforts after a 2013 tornado tore through the central Illinois community of Washington plans to use some of its leftover funds to partner with Habitat for Humanity on a local construction project.

The Washington Illinois Area Foundation raised about $1.6 million after the tornado destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 homes, the Journal Star reported. The foundation spent $1 million of its funds for relief work through the end of its latest tax reporting year, according to tax documents and reports reviewed by the newspaper. More funds have since been spent, but the group still has some money left.

The group consulted with the Illinois attorney general’s office before deciding to use some of the leftover funds to work with Habitat for Humanity to build a house on one of the vacant lots where a home was damaged or destroyed by the tornado. The group will also save some money for future projects.

“To have funds left over isn’t a bad thing, but we want to disburse them and use them for the right purpose,” said Matt Moehle, the foundation’s president. “It’s impossible to carry out the disaster relief guidelines any further if all the needs have been met.”

City leaders set up the foundation after the tornado to handle donations they expected to pour in from across the state and the country. The foundation also raised more than $300,000 through the sale of “Washington Strong” t-shirts.

Most of the funds went to help residents defray some of their repair costs and to local governments, which had absorbed some costs using taxpayer dollars.

Moehle said the foundation’s main goal was to put the needs of individual residents first.

“We wanted to make sure we were exhausting every possible option through residents … and make sure there was no stone unturned,” Moehle said. “That was being a steward of the funds that were given to help.”

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