Two weeks after a tornado killed four people and disrupted electric service for more than 3,700customers in Columbia, Community Connection volunteers in the Pine Belt answered the call Thursday for victims during a telethon at Hattiesburg TV station WDAM.
The 12 employees manned the phones from noon to 4 p.m. and took donations from callers all over south Mississippi. Donations were collected for the Columbia Strong Fund, which was started to assist unmet needs in Marion County.
“We worked with the Greater Pine Belt Community Foundation after the tornado that hit Hattiesburg in 2013,” Pine Belt Division Manager Michael Harvey said. “When they called us to ask if we could help with the telethon, we agreed and didn’t have any trouble finding volunteers to help.”
The group of employees from across the division was eager to continue the company’s efforts to help victims recover from the EF3 tornado that moved across Mississippi on Dec. 23.
“The people we spoke to on the phone were so thankful that we were helping out,” said Emily Shows, a customer service representative in Hattiesburg. “This was a great experience for our team and a day that we truly made a difference.”
In addition to the manpower on the day of the telethon, Harvey and Columbia District Manager Benny Prestridge made a $15,000 commitment to the Columbia Strong Fund from the Mississippi Power Foundation.
“After Mother Nature’s storm passed, families in the tornado stricken area continue to experience the physical, emotional and financial storms of life,” Rodger Meinzinger, executive director of the Mississippi Power Foundation said. “Our contribution is just another way to show this community that Mississippi Power cares and that we are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.”
“People in Columbia are so thankful of the company’s efforts,” Prestridge said. “Having that many people working on Christmas Eve to restore power shows how committed this company is to the communities we serve. We proved once again that we put customers at the center of everything we do with our response.”
The telethon collected more than $218,000 for victims of the Columbia tornado.