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Family collecting supplies for tornado victims

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David Brazy
June 2, 2011
— A Janesville family is doing its part to help residents of a Missouri town nearly destroyed by a tornado.

Jason Jaskula, 37, and Marie Chroninger, 37, knew they had to do something to help after following coverage of the natural disaster in the news. The tornado struck the town of Joplin, Mo., and killed more than 100 people May 22.


"We were just watching TV and saw how much the people down there were hurting, and we realized we don't have it that bad up here," Jaskula said.


The two turned to the Internet and social media to see if any of their friends and coworkers would be willing to donate food and other supplies. Chroninger said they got a response right away. They will be taking food and clothing along with supplies to help clean out the tons of wreckage the storm left in its wake.


"We didn't think it was going to be as large as scale as it's become," Jaskula said. "It doesn't matter what the economy is doing in our area. Those people need help."


The donated supplies will be given to a Joplin church the two found through the United Way. Jaskula said they wanted to make sure the supplies get to the people who need them the most.


Not to be outdone, Chroninger's 14-year-old daughter, Darby Hoffman, used Facebook to reach out to classmates at Beloit Memorial High School for donations.


"My 14-year-old just keeps saying she wants to do something that is meaningful," Chroninger said.


Chroninger said she was amazed by the reaction her daughter got from students and teachers at the school. By the next morning, she had received bags of cereal, clothing and other supplies.


The couple planned to leave today and drive their truck and a trailer of supplies through the night to reach Joplin by Friday morning. After grabbing a few quick hours of sleep in the truck, they are signed up to a crew to help clear debris all day Friday.


They plan to return Sunday morning.


If they continue to receive donations, Finnegan's RV Center in Beloit, which is serving as a drop-off point for supplies for the couple, will send a crew to Joplin to drop them off, Jaskula said. Chroninger already is planning to return in a few weeks with friends.


Chroninger admits they are unsure what to expect when they arrive in Joplin, but they are determined to help.


"We have no idea what we are going to be encountering, and I'm sure its going to be an emotional weekend," Chroninger said.



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