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OTC relief effort brings out best in Ozarks

The southeast corner of OTC’s Springfield campus at National Avenue and Chestnut Expressway has been abuzz with activity since Monday, less than 24 hours after a tornado tore a destructive path through Joplin.

Since then, the good-hearted people of the Ozarks have brought tens of thousands of dollars in cash and tons of vital goods to that corner.

By Friday, OTC collected $67,500 and sent nine tractor-trailers heaping with goods to Joplin.

“OTC is happy and proud to serve as a conduit between those who wanted to give and those in need in Joplin. The work of the volunteers and the generosity of those who gave speak volumes about the people of the Ozarks, who are always ready to lend a helping hand,” said Dr. Hal L. Higdon, president of Ozarks Technical Community College.

 “We also want to thank Prime Inc. and Jim Towery at Steelman Transportation for the use of several tractors to transport the items to Joplin. The effort of the Journal Broadcast Group played a big part in bringing people to campus. Without their contribution, the effort would not have been as successful as it was.”

There have been many touching moments involving folks who have contributed or volunteered.

Monday night, an unemployed man dropped off a case of water. He said it was all he could afford.

Tuesday evening, the Girl Scouts showed up with 800 boxes of their trademark cookies.

Wednesday afternoon, Bingham Elementary dropped off $1,156 in bills and change.

Wednesday night, a little girl brought $31 in change that she had in four plastic sandwich bags and a green Easter egg.

And then there’s the story of Tanya Willhite, 22, who graduated last week from Missouri State University. She was shocked when the tornado hit Joplin, where her friends and classmates lived. Tanya grew up in Carl Junction, just east of Joplin.

When she returned to Springfield Monday, where she lived while attending Missouri State, she learned of OTC’s relief drive.

She came to OTC Tuesday to volunteer. She was here until we closed Wednesday night, too. But Thursday, she was absent. She had her gall bladder removed.

“I’m so glad this is here and as soon as I get out of the hospital, I’m going to Joplin to help there,” she said.

For more about the Joplin Relief Drive, go to

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications for Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at




College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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