Pictured are Brewed Expressions employees Alli Kennedy, Kristin Evans, Laura Bowen and Kali Coleman on a work day in Celina. Cheryl Bowen, also present, took the picture. (Photo submitted)
Pictured are Brewed Expressions employees Alli Kennedy, Kristin Evans, Laura Bowen and Kali Coleman on a work day in Celina. Cheryl Bowen, also present, took the picture. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – The staff of Brewed Expressions in downtown Van Wert closed for a day recently to travel to Celina and assist with tornado cleanup.

“We thought that it would be a nice thing for us to do to help out the way that we could,” commented employee Alli Kennedy.

Others that made the trip to Celina included Kristin Evans, Laura Bowen, Cheryl Bowen and Kali Coleman.

Kennedy said that staff members were shocked when they drove into the ravaged tornado path areas. The first stop on their volunteer clean-up effort was at the local food pantry where food was arriving by the truck loads to assist and feed victims.

“We started at the food pantry where people had donated. We assisted in organizing foods,” said Kennedy. “It blew my mind how much stuff people gave away. It really felt good to see people reach out like that for the needs of people they didn’t even know.”

Their next stop was to subdivisions close to the Mercer County Fairgrounds where there had been excessive damage. Residents were out everywhere trying to clean up their yards and repairing building damage, Kennedy said.

“They were so glad for our willingness to help. We told them that we would do anything that we could to give them a hand,” said Kennedy. “The main thing that we did was help them carry landscaping blocks. They were very grateful. One lady was pregnant and was really glad for our help.”

The group spent a major part of their time picking up things out of farmers’ fields.

Kennedy said that they felt for the farmers that have already had a rough spring because of all of the rain. Now when they were hoping to get into the fields, all of this trash blew into them, she said.

“There were other groups there helping with it,” said Kennedy. “I was surprised with how many people from all over were coming to help. We went into the fields and loaded debris on vehicles for them to take to dumpsters.

“I didn’t know what to think. I never saw tornado debris like that before. I was too young to remember the tornado that went through here in 2002,” Kennedy said. “We were glad to go and help them by volunteering. It was amazing how people were willing to come from all over to donate their time. My faith in people increased. It’s awesome how so many good people are willing to come together and help, it blows my mind.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to say, ‘yes,’ again to help people out,” continued Kennedy. “There’s no amount of pay that could make up for what we did down there. I would rather feel good like that for helping people out. It was a great feeling to try to encourage them like that.”