Crash of Flight 5191

Community’s compassionate response noted

Comair Flight 5191 is a disaster of national scope, but hometown helpers also have been on the scene.

Volunteers from the Lexington chapters of the Salvation Army and American Red Cross have been dishing up meals, providing counseling, even delivering 52 toys and teddy bears to the children of victims’ families.

“The people in your local community did a phenomenal job,” said Sharon Bryson, director of the federal Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance. “I have not seen as much compassion and such an outpouring in response to a group of victims in a long time.”

The Salvation Army supplied eight officers, who are chaplains, and 20 volunteers. One group assisted in grief counseling. Others were stationed at the crash site beginning Sunday. By yesterday, they’d served more than 1,000 meals and handed out 6,000 snacks and beverages.

Maj. Debbie Ashcraft said the group had several partners. Wal-Mart donated the toys. Home Depot employees brought out grills and cooked. Sam’s Club donated burgers. And at least 15 restaurants simply appeared with food at the site.

The Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross had 75 volunteers, mostly local, working “pretty much non-stop” since Sunday’s crash, said spokeswoman Amber Youngblood. They provided grief counseling to 130 people. The Red Cross also provided some meals at the crash site and helped arrange yesterday’s memorial service for the families. Both groups say they will be there until the last worker leaves.

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