Ancilla baseball team joins relief efforts for Alabama tornado victims
DONALDSON – The Ancilla College baseball team recently joined in aiding relief efforts for victims of the tornadoes that swept through Alabama, delivering numerous donated goods and lending assistance to those in need.
“As I watched with my family the tornadoes going through Birmingham live on TV and learning of the damage, destruction and death they caused, I knew there was something that could be done to help these people in some way,” said Yonto. “Having a week left in school, we still had the opportunity to get something done.”
Yonto - along with the assistance of Ancilla faculty, staff, and administration – began a collection of items including hygiene products, water, clothes, blankets, socks, food, animal food, baby items, and other necessities.
Drop boxes were placed at the College, The LifePlex, WTCA Radio, and Martin’s Supermarket in Plymouth and were quickly filled with numerous goods. Martin’s donated three boxes of food and baby items to the efforts. Overmyer Water and Culligan matched each purchase made, while members of the local communities from Culver to South Bend came forth with donations of their own.
When all was said and done, a 15 passenger Ancilla College bus was completely packed and left room for just four passengers to travel – Yonto, assistant baseball coach Terry Coleman, Trace Myers, and Dennis Emmons.
“When Joe Yonto suggested the trip and started gathering donations, I was onboard immediately,” said Emmons. “Ancilla is a faith-based institution and the outpouring of donations from the staff, faculty, students and sisters proves even more that they truly are a ministry. I am proud of my alma mater for making a difference.”
Nearing the site of the disaster, Yonto was stunned by the destruction he saw.
“The majority of the town was wiped out,” said Yonto. “Schools, churches, and homes were gone. Some just had the roof top on the ground. You could see the path the tornadoes had taken. Poles and trees were snapped in half. Houses that were standing had tarps on them. There were just open areas of the land that once had houses there.”
Upon arrival at Our Lady of the Valley parish in Birmingham, the four were warmly greeted by 15 people, including Msgr. Paul Rohling, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley.
In addition to the donated items and money, Yonto was able to present Msgr. Rohling with a letter from Ancilla College President Dr. Ron May to Rev. Bishop Robert J. Baker.
Afterwards, the group headed to Cullman, AL, to aid in relief efforts. After checking on many of the local residents affected by the storms, the group visited the Catholic Charities Service, where they spent several hours stacking, marking, and organizing truck loads of boxes and supplies.
"I know that it was just people caring about people and people helping out other people no matter what the situation,” said Yonto. “That is how I was raised and that is the mission of Ancilla College.”