SALEM, Ohio (WJW) – Two special events are planned to offer comfort and support to the victims of the Norfolk Southern toxic train derailment in East Palestine.
On Saturday, the nonprofit organization The Brightside Project in Salem will be delivering 15 trucks full of supplies, which will be enough for 700 families.
A convoy of trucks with police escort will deliver the care packages to East Palestine High School for a drive-thru distribution event from noon until 4 p.m.
“They’re going to get water, bread, milk, meat and other nonperishable food items as well as a variety of personal care products,” said Lisa Wallace, Brightside co-director. “And just some other health and safety products.”
The 501(c)3 charity is dedicated to helping families across Columbiana County and especially children, so kids will receive special goodie bags.
One-thousand new pillows will also be distributed because they learned many pillows were thrown away due to contamination fears.
“That really bothered us, so every child will get a brand new pillow and probably a pillowcase and blankets, too,” said Scott Lewis, Brightside executive director.
The agency has been providing support ever since the accident, giving residents everything from gas cards to cleaning supplies and toiletries.
Residents previously had to travel to Salem, but this Saturday they’re grateful to be able to personally deliver the supplies.
“Businesses across the country have been so generous to us. In all my years of nonprofit, I’ve never seen it this way,” said Lewis, adding that the need is great. “We’ve had a lot of moms in here crying. We’ve had a lot of older men crying as well.”
People from East Palestine, Negley, Darlington, Unity and New Waterford are welcome at the event with proof of residency.
But the assistance won’t end here.
They are already developing longterm support plans for that area.
“To make sure they’re going to be okay in the end,” said Wallace.
Donations are appreciated and can be made online or by purchasing items from their Amazon page, which are shipped directly to their building at 483 E. Pershing Street, Salem.
There’s also a benefit concert Sunday called Play for Palestine.
Local musicians The Conckle Brothers are organizing that fundraiser.
A number of bands will play from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Vagabond Theatre in Columbiana.
Admission is free, but other funds raised will be donated to The Brightside Project or people can drop off donations.
Both Wallace and Lewis call the efforts unifying and say they are tremendously grateful to be able to help so many people in need.
“The people of East Palestine are hurting and just want their lives back to normal,” said Lewis.