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franklin county times

Zaxby’s raises $20K for tornado relief

Four months after the devastating EF-5 tornado tore through Franklin County, the victims left in the path of destruction are still receiving help from people inside as well as outside Franklin County.

On Thursday, owners, representatives and other officials from the Florence and Muscle Shoals Zaxby’s gathered to present a check for $20,208 to members of the Franklin County Y.E.S. Foundation’s committee for the Franklin County Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund.

The money was raised by in-store guest contributions of 25 cents at a time during the months of May, June, July and August at the two locations. The stores reached their goal of raising $10,000, which was matched by Zaxby’s for the donation.

Kurt Wilson and Bart Chandler, owners of the two Zaxby’s restaurants, had previously planned a fundraiser for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia when the April 27 tornadoes made them decide to change their focus.

“We saw the devastation the tornadoes left and knew we wanted to raise money to help the victims,” Wilson said.

Wilson credited the success of the fundraiser to the management team at both restaurant locations and the generous people in the Shoals area who donated to the cause.

Danny Brown, a member of the relief fund committee, said he and other members of the committee have hand-delivered most of the checks from the fund to the victims and it has been a great experience.

“This money has been such a blessing to these people,” Brown said. “Some of them have just been speechless when we showed up with their check. Every one of them needs this money.”

“These people lost everything. Some of them only came out of it with the shirt and the pair of socks they had on,” added William Bishop, who also serves on the relief fund committee. “One hundred percent of this money goes to these victims and we appreciate everyone who made a donation.”

Junior Ruiz, who serves as the vice-president of the Y.E.S. Foundation, said this fund is a prime example of why the foundation was created in the first place.

“We are so thankful the Y.E.S. Foundation was already in place so we could start helping these families as soon as possible,” Ruiz said. “We were able to deliver the first check within two weeks of the disaster, and that money really goes a long way.”

Committee member Kathy Archer said over $96,000 has been given out to date to over 209 families. The committee has an application process and applicants are chosen based on need. Archer said they will continue to help as many people as they can.

“The money we received from Zaxby’s will allow us to help even more people in the community who still need financial assistance,” Archer said.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the Franklin County Alabama Tornado Disaster Relief Fund can donate at the following banks and any of their branches: Bank Independent, CB&S Bank, Community Spirit Bank, First Metro Bank and Valley State Bank.

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