In Tornado-Damaged Washington, People Find Reason To Be Thankful

(CBS) — Many people in Washington, Ill. lost nearly everything in the recent tornado, but on Thursday they were among the most thankful of all.

The Crossroads United Methodist Church near Peoria became a huge banquet hall, serving more than a thousand Thanksgiving meals to people whose last 10 days have been kind of a blur.

“For those of us affected, it’s a few moments of calm and true Thanksgiving for all the help we have had,” says Washington resident Karen Sitler, who lost her home.

Casey Taylor, associate pastor at Crossroads United Methodist, has been stunned by all of the support. There’s no longer any room to store donations for tornado survivors.

Even as people sat down to eat, another truckload arrived from Chicago.

While some found strength in numbers, others were part of smaller groups, preparing Thanksgiving dinner at homes they now share, at least temporarily, with friends and relatives.

Many plan to rebuild, eventually. But now, there are more pressing needs.

“I haven’t cried for my house yet, but I have cried for all the help that we’ve been receiving,” Ritler said.

Because donated items are overflowing, officials are asking for items like money and gift cards for the upcoming Christmas season.

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