SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Multiple tornadoes swept through western and central Massachusetts on June 1, destroying buildings, tearing down homes, flipping vehicles and leaving a wake of destruction. The sight of flattened walls, boarded up windows, and tarps covering peeled-off roofs are a daily reminder of the need for help from services and neighbors.
To help in the recovery efforts, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots have Charitable Foundation have pledged to match up to $100,000 of donations made to United Way to help the unmet needs of the victims of the tornadoes. Through a partnership with United Way/Mass2-1-1 via the Massachusetts Statewide Disaster Relief Fund, 100 percent of all dollars raised will be directed towards helping those in need. Donations can be made at http://www.unitedwaytri-county.org/disaster or by dialing 2-1-1 toll free, with every dollar, up to $100,000, matched by the Kraft family and the Patriots Charitable Foundation.
"The tornadoes that touched down in central and western Massachusetts earlier this month completely demolished many homes and ravaged communities throughout the region," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "While the news and images were devastating, the countless examples of volunteerism and the outpouring of support has been inspirational. Myra and I wanted to offer our support as well and are proud to have partnered with the United Way/Mass2-1-1 disaster relief fund. Myra has served as chair for the United Way for the past couple of years and has a long history with them. With her intimate knowledge of the programs that United Way supports, it made our selection for this contribution very easy, as we know that 100 percent of the proceeds collected will be used to benefit families who are in need. We applaud the countless volunteers and all those who have already contributed to this relief effort. They make us proud to be New Englanders."
On Tuesday, June 21, Patriots defensive lineman Ron Brace and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett were joined by the United Way of Tri-County and Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno at an event at Springfield College to announce the challenge to match the $100,000 with public donations.
"We've been able to put together this tornado disaster relief effort in the last three weeks. We have put a great team together, and when you think team, you think New England Patriots," said Mayor Sarno. "To get this generous infusion of $100,000 from the New England Patriots really shows that the New England Patriots are New England's team."
"Our hearts and minds are with the residents of western and central Massachusetts impacted by the tornadoes," said Tippett, the Patriots' Executive Director of Community Affairs. "We hope the knowledge that every dollar donated will be doubled is additional incentive for the community to contribute to this important cause."
"This is where I grew up. This is the place that made me who I am," said Brace. "Every chance I get to help Springfield I will. We need to keep rebuilding this city and make it even better than before these tornadoes came in."
The drive to $200,000 in total donations was kick-started on Tuesday with a $10,000 donation from Waters Corporation and a $5,000 donation from Excel Dryer.
"Excel Dryer is proud to support Mr. Kraft and the New England Patriots in their fundraising initiative for tornado relief," said William Gagnon, Excel Dryer Vice President of Marketing and Key Accounts. "Western and Central Massachusetts have long supported both Excel Dryer and the New England Patriots. Now, we're glad that together we can contribute to the western and central Massachusetts community rebuilding effort during this time of urgent need."
The announcement was the first of two visits the Patriots make to Springfield this week. On Friday, June 24, the New England Patriots Alumni Association will bring their 'Football for YOU' free youth football clinic to Springfield College. The clinic is open to youth ages 11-14, and walk-in registration is welcome. Children will enjoy a day of football skill sessions coached by Patriots alumni and Brace will serve as a special guest speaker. A pizza party will be provided by Papa Gino's. Springfield College is located at 263 Alden Street in Springfield