Auburn students, fans reach out to Tuscaloosa

Katherine Martin

Students and fans of Auburn University have already begun to show support for the University of Alabama and the city of Tuscaloosa following the devastation from the tornado that has left parts of the city in shambles.

Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa, a Facebook group started by Auburn fans, is just one of the efforts. Its mission is to help those affected by the tornado in Tuscaloosa as well as other hard-hit areas around the state.

The group currently has more than 57,000 fans offering condolences to the city as well as information on how to help out and opportunities to volunteer.

Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa is also organizing groups of Auburn fans to travel to Tuscaloosa to aid in the cleanup efforts and donation fund for the city.

Stephen Stuart, an Auburn student from Tuscaloosa, said it’s been great to see people helping his hometown.

“It’s been crazy, everybody’s been texting and calling checking to see if all my family is OK,” Stuart said. “It’s been really neat to see people care about everything that’s going on over there. It was really scary when it was going on and I wasn’t able to be there.”

Stuart, a member of Auburn’s Student Government Association, said the SGA has also been working to help out.

The SGA will be collecting 15 percent from all proceeds from Chick-fil-a on Monday to donate to the Red Cross that will go to Tuscaloosa.

The group is also hosting a blood drive on campus for those in need in Tuscaloosa.

Stuart said there are also change buckets around campus in the libraries and book stores and other place to donate.

The SGA is still coming up with ideas on how to help out and is also considering sending leftover supplies from big event projects, he said.

Cary Bayless, an AU student, and a group of 10 to 15 others are planning to arrive in Tuscaloosa this morning to offer volunteer aid.

“We’re all from Alabama, and even though we go to Auburn, we feel like Tuscaloosa is part of our home,” he said. “We felt like we needed to be there to help out.”

Cameron McDaniel, a member of the ROTC at Auburn, said the ROTC is also planning to send a group to Tuscaloosa.

“It’s a school-wide thing,” McDaniel said. “Tide for Toomer’s is one thing, [and] we felt we owed something to y’all. A tornado is a lot bigger than a tree that’s dying.”            McDaniel said students at Auburn are doing everything they can to help with the relief.

Since it’s the end of the year, some AU students are spending the money remaining on their Tiger Card’s, their version of ACT Cards, to buy water and supplies to donate.

“There’s a huge group effort going on over here,” he said. “We immediately realized we needed to do something.”

Although the effort is still unorganized, McDaniel said he sees it becoming a huge relief effort.

Lauren Swindle, a freshman at Auburn and a member of Generation Auburn, a student ministry, said the group has set up a table on the Concourse in the middle of campus for donations.

Swindle said there are tables set up all over town to collect donations and supplies for tornado victims.

Sarah Grace Weaver, another Auburn student, said she and a group of friends got together immediately after seeing pictures and videos from Tuscaloosa to help out.

“People are wiping out our campus convenience stores,” Weaver said. “It’s just so neat to see people walking around with a case of water and bags hanging off their arms to donate.”

Weaver said she and her friends have collected toiletries, baby supplies, water, and other necessities to bring to Tuscaloosa.

“It’s great to see everyone working together,” she said.