Special Reports

Support continues to pour into Joplin

One night earlier this month, the Facebook plea went out.

A third-grade girl in Joplin lost her glasses in the tornado and needed another pair.

Fourteen minutes later, another post: “The need has been met.”

Another student lost his bike in the storm, and again a post went up on the school district’s Bright Futures page. Within minutes, someone offered to replace it.

For 10 weeks now, support from across the nation — even the world — has flooded Joplin. The school district has scores of volunteers sifting through donations of books, clothes and toiletries, trying to match them with needs.

Then there’s the cash coming in. So far, three school funds have netted more than $1.5 million, said Kim Vann, director of community development for Joplin schools. That money, unless designated for a specific purpose, will help students and teachers in need.

After seeing the devastation, Vann said she worried about being able to help everyone. “But the support, it’s been amazing,” she said.

In one way, the school district was prepared for the storm. A few years ago, it set up Bright Futures, a partnership with the community designed to fill needs inside the district.

When the tornado hit, Vann used Bright Futures to connect needs with resources.

Just last week, Bright Futures posted about a single mom of three who lost everything. One child suffers from the trauma not only of being sucked out of a car, but also seeing someone decapitated.

People offered ideas and toys for the children. They asked where to drop off gift cards for the family. Help is still coming in for them.

How to help

For more information, go to the Bright Futures page on Facebook. To help provide students with school supplies, go to


and click on “Adopt-an-Eagle.”