United Way making huge impact in Mississippi city hit by tornado

Published 10:49 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

When disaster struck the Rolling Fork community in Sharkey County on the night of March 24, United Way of West Central Mississippi was one of the first to respond by collecting and distributing the biggest needs to be met at that moment.

UWWCM began collecting water along with other disaster relief supplies the day after the disaster struck and the funds poured in almost instantly.

“My hat is off to United Way of West Central Mississippi for always being there when needed,” said Jackie Libbett, security manager at Bally’s Casino Vicksburg. “They are the best United Way agency in this country. You don’t have to call them when a crisis hits; they already know. They jump into action, get the ball rolling and do what needs to be done, and we can’t thank them enough.”

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UWWCM has been able to raise more than $1.2 million for the Rolling Fork community.

The support received from donors through the 2022 United Way Campaign allowed the United Way of West Central Mississippi to use 100 percent of all disaster relief funds collected across the nation for people affected by the devastation in Sharkey County.

Through community partnerships, the United Way has been able to provide the following for those in the Rolling Fork community:

Hot meals for residents and people working in the community, provided by Perry Boyd of the Gumbo Pot and local casinos: Riverwalk, Bally’s, Waterview, and Ameristar. More than 25,000 meals were served. Four 18-wheelers of water and disaster relief donations for people in the community that were left with nothing were delivered to the Disaster Relief Distribution Center. United Way of West Central Mississippi provided 8,560 Visa Gift Cards in the amount of $500 each to people who lost everything in the tornado. UWWCM has earmarked $500,000 for its long-term recovery.

“We can’t do this alone, and we haven’t,” a statement from UWWCM said. “United Way is so thankful for the support of the community that continues to come together when disaster strikes.”

There are still more than 300 people displaced by the March 24 storm who don’t have any means to cook a hot meal.

Boyd and his staff often spend countless hours preparing and serving the food, all while running two local restaurants. The need is still great, and Boyd would like to continue serving meals to ensure that no one goes hungry.

Many local banks (RiverHills, Mutual Credit Union, Delta Bank, Regions and Cadence Bank) have stepped up to continue with the feeding efforts in Rolling Fork by volunteering their time and donating additional funds.

For more than 70 years, UWWCM has brought resources and people together to unite the community and bring together the needs of the community. The organization serves Warren, Sharkey, Issaquena, Claiborne, and Yazoo Counties, along with a tip of Madison Parish in Louisiana.

Organizations or businesses that would like to get involved can call the United Way of West Central Mississippi office at 601-636-1733.