As many as a thousand volunteers will be tackling dozens of chores, big and small, this week at the Little Sioux Boy Scout Camp in western Iowa. Four scouts were killed, dozens hurt, when a tornado hit the camp in June of 2008. Jeff Parness, spokesman for the New York Says Thank You Foundation, says his team will be in Harrison County on Thursday through Sunday.
“We’re going to be bringing our largest group ever to the Little Sioux Scout Camp in western Iowa that, obviously, folks know was hit by this deadly tornado a year ago,” Parness says. “We’re going to help rebuild the camp.” Three of the Boy Scouts who died in the storm were Nebraskans, all from Omaha; the fourth boy was Aaron Eilerts of Eagle Grove, Iowa.
Hundreds of trees were toppled in the storm and several camp buildings were flattened. Parness says the volunteers will be building a chapel on the site of the lodge where the four boys were killed using lumber from those trees. He explains their motivation for coming to Iowa.
Parness says, “After Nine Eleven, in the days and weeks that followed, we had so much support from people all around the United States, folks from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, just all across America who poured into New York to help us, that our foundation was formed to honor all of that generosity and to pay it forward.” He says it’s an amazing team that continues to grow. They’re joined by disaster survivors from all communities around the U.S. that they helped on previous anniversaries of Nine Eleven.
Parness says, “Every year, on the Nine Eleven anniversary, we send volunteers from New York to help rebuild communities hit by disaster as our way of saying thank you and celebrating the kindliness and neighborliness and humanity that we experienced not just as New Yorkers, but as a nation, and not just on Nine Eleven but on Nine Twelve.”
Story by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City