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Tennessee tornado victims: How to help

There are a number of ways you can help the victims of devastating tornadoes in Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — At least 24 people have been killed across Middle Tennessee when devastating tornadoes hit overnight. Homes and businesses are destroyed, people are homeless and in need of help.

Right now, people are asked to stay out of the devastated areas so emergency officials can do their work.

So what can you do?

There is a centralized hub for donations on GoFundMe that was just launched on Wednesday. It includes a list of verified fundraisers related to the tornadoes.

Putnam County

The hardest-hit area is in Putnam County, which is about 90 minutes west of Knoxville.

The Cookeville Putnam County Tornado Relief Fund has been set up for victims of the Putnam County tornado. This is the only official designated account with 100 percent of the donations going directly to the impacted victims. There are three ways to donate money: 

•    Any Bank of Putnam County location

•    Venmo @CookevillePutnamCountyTornado

•    PayPal@CookevillePutnamCountyTornadoReliefFund

Due to the outpouring of support and people wanting to help with the cleanup and recovery, a new volunteer reception center has been established at the Putnam County Fairgrounds located at 155 Fairground Street in Cookeville.

You can sign up to volunteer here. The number of volunteers per day will be limited due to safety and logistical concerns.

There are now three ways people can sign up to volunteer:

Once you sign up, you will be assigned a team leader and get further instructions from them including a time and place to meet.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and wear appropriate safety gear. All volunteers will have to sign a waiver/release form.

There's been such a huge outpouring of support to help victims of last week's tornadoes in the Cookeville area that officials are putting a hold on new supply donations and asking people to no longer donate supplies.

If a group has already collected donations, they can still be delivered to the Cookeville Community Center by 4:30 p.m. CDT on Friday. They ask that you call Kayla 615-853-3975 to coordinate a bulk delivery.

RELATED: Donations for tornado victims put on hold in Putnam County

RELATED: At least 16 people killed in Putnam County tornado, crews still searching devastated areas

RELATED: East Tennessee crews helping with Middle Tennessee tornado damage

There is also a shortage of blood according to Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton. He said you can donate at Blood Assurance at 155 W Broad Street.

Medic Regional Blood Center in Knoxville has sent a supply of blood to Putnam County and will continue to help as they request it. You can find a place to donate here.

RELATED: Blood donations needed following devastating tornadoes in Middle Tennessee

Anyone who wishes to help can donate locally so Medic will have the supplies to help in recovery efforts 

Local Efforts: Knoxville

WBIR has teamed up with Compassion Ministries to fill a truck with supplies in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church, which is located at 12813 Kingston Pike in Farragut, and we want to help them fill it! Get a full list of needed supplies and more info here.

RELATED: Help us load up a truck of supplies for tornado victims

AMR and Rural/Metro are collecting supplies all all R/M fire stations and at AMR headquarters located at 10140 Gallows Point Dr. in Knoxville.

They are collecting:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cases of water (not individual bottles)
  • Work gloves (new)
  • Tarps (new)
  • Socks (new/unopened)
  • Hygienic & toiletry Items (new)

Knoxville Pays It Forward is collecting supplies for people affected by the tornadoes in Nashville. They can be dropped off at Admiral Title on Kingston Pike and Midsouth Truck on Rutledge Pike:

  • A case of water
  • Hygiene products
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers & wipes
  • Adult diapers and bed pads
  • Ensure
  • Formula
  • Cleaning supplies
  • New underwear
  • Pet food
  • Trash bags
  • Work gloves
  • Gatorade
  • Protein bars
  • Pillows blankets
  • Laundry detergent
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Plastic totes

Donations are being collected at Knoxville-area Prestige Cleaners locations for tornado victims. They will be delivered to the Nashville Community Resource Center on Monday, March 9th.

Items needed:

  • Personal Hygiene Items
  • Baby Formula
  • Bleach
  • Trash Bags
  • Gloves
  • Box Cutters
  • Tarps (All Sizes)

Local Efforts: Sevierville

The Tennessee Smokies work with the Nashville Sounds collecting donations to support the surrounding Nashville area during their tornado relief efforts. Smokies Stadium will be a drop off location for sealed and unused goods on Friday, March 6 and Monday, March 9 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Tim Volk, Tennessee Smokies General Manager commented, “Our thoughts go out to the Nashville community at this time. We are here to support in any way we can as they overcome this tragedy.”

All donations can be dropped off inside GoTeez Locker Room.

The Tennessee Smokies will be accepting the following unused and sealed items:

  • Individually wrapped snacks
  • Toiletries
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Baby food
  • Baby wipes
  • Child and adult diapers
  • Paper towels
  • Work gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Gatorade
  • Trash bags

Local Efforts: Loudon County

Loudon County Sheriff's Office is hosting a one day, all day collection site for disaster relief for Putnam County tornado victims Thursday. 

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. people can bring donations to the Loudon County Justice Center. 

Local Efforts: Nashville

Hands On Nashville is working closely with the City of Nashville and the Office of Emergency Management to ensure all of the available resources are in place to help our community in the wake of last night’s destructive tornadoes throughout Davidson and surrounding counties. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity this community has shown. At this time, we are collecting contact information for those who would like to volunteer to help in the recovery and cleanup. We will share more details about specific volunteer opportunities as we learn those details from the city. Sign up at this link, and we'll follow up with more info:

Salvation Army

In the aftermath of a deadly tornado outbreak in the city of Nashville and across middle Tennessee, The Salvation Army is mobilizing disaster relief teams to help those in need.  Your support will help The Salvation Army stay on the frontlines of this crisis and enable us to provide food, water and other disaster relief services to tornado survivors and rescue workers. 

RELATED: NFL teams rally around Tennessee Titans after deadly tornadoes

RELATED: Historic Tennessee State Prison damaged in Nashville tornadoes

You can make a monetary donation here.

Local chapters of the American Red Cross are mobilizing to help tornado victims across the state. 

Eight volunteers from Knoxville are already in Nashville assisting victims. Six more will be there by Wednesday afternoon.

They have opened four shelters in the Nashville area and one in Cookeville.

“We know people are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Our first priority is to provide shelter and support to those affected. We are not accepting donated goods, as it takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive for the Tennessee Region.

The Red Cross advises the best way to help is with a monetary donation. You can donate here or give $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

The American Red Cross is also asking for blood donations in Nashville.

RELATED: "It's a vicious thing" President Trump sends prayers to Tennessee, plans to visit Friday

RELATED: #IBelieveInNashville: Organizations, celebrities pledge support for Music City in wake of disaster


Airbnb has activated its Open Homes Program in and around Nashville to help those displaced by the recent tornado and relief workers deployed to help. The program connects Airbnb hosts who are willing and able to provide free housing to displaced residents and disaster relief workers in the activation area.

It's available through March 24th in Nashville and surrounding areas, including the counties of Benton, Caroll, Davidson, Wilson, Putnam, and Gibson. If you need a place to stay, go here. 

Existing Airbnb hosts and anyone with free space in the Nashville area can now opt to list their homes for free and offer temporary accommodations to those in need by visiting www.airbnb.com/tntornado20.

“Our hearts go out to all those impacted by the tornado. Airbnb hosts in the Nashville area are showing their support and offering free, temporary housing to those in need and relief workers,” said Kristen Berlacher, Airbnb’s Head of Causes for Open Homes. “As we continue to work with local agencies and disaster relief organizations on the ground to offer our support, we encourage hosts to open up their homes and those in need of housing to take advantage of our community’s generosity.” 

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee is collecting money to help those impacted by tornadoes. 

It has created a fundraising page where you can donate. You can find a link to that here.

The university said it is coordinating directly with officials from Middle Tennessee communities to ensure collected funds are used in the way that is most helpful for those impacted.

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