UPPER SANDUSKY, Ohio (WCMH)–When a family reeling from the death of their two-year-old son saw the tornado destruction in the western part of Kentucky, they knew they had to help.
“We thought this was our moment to get the community together for good so close to Christmas,” said Elizabeth Vehrs, who lost her son Knox in May. “Made a couple of phone calls and it blew up from there.”
Vehrs and her husband took to social media to ask people to donate items to help the recovery effort in Kentucky. They kept getting phone calls and messages from people who wanted to help and make the trip with them from Upper Sandusky.
“They lost houses. Some of them lost loved ones. We’re kind of all in the same spot,” said Elizabeth.
Knox would have celebrated his third birthday in September, but his battle for life ended in May from a rare heart defect. While the pain of him being gone is tough for his parents, they are celebrating his life by helping others.
“This holiday has been kind of different than all the others,” said Elizabeth.
“He opened my eyes to a lot of things,” said Keith Vehrs, Knox’s father. “People sent money, put on fundraisers, nobody batted an eye. They were there to help.”
The support the Vehrs received from the community drove them to help the people in Kentucky.
People from around their community of Upper Sandusky pulled together all types of items like toys, personal care items — even hay and straw for farm animals.
“Over 20 people were at our house packing trailers,” Keith said. “We didn’t even feed them. They just showed up.”
In six days, community members donated enough items to fill 18 trailers. Even strangers joined the Vehrs family caravan to Kentucky three days before Christmas. One of the men donated 80 round bales of hay, valued at more than $6,000.
“I figure if I’m ever in need someday, maybe someone will do the same for me,” said Jared McNeely of McNeely Farms. “These people have lost everything, seems to me anyway. I’ve got the extra hay. More power to them, they can have it.”
While the caravan will never bring the Vehrs’ son Knox back, everyone involved hopes it will inspire people to help others.
“It’s nice to see everyone get together, working together and helping each other out,” said McNeely.
“Everybody can see this and want to do good themselves. That’s all we really want out of it,” said Keith Vehrs.
The trip took about six hours and the group returned to their homes before Christmas.