An Eau Claire TV station raised $40,000 for victims of a tornado.
WEAU-TV raised the money from the community after a tornado ripped through northwestern Wisconsin on May 16 killing one person, injuring others and causing millions in damage. One of the biggest casualties was a trailer park in the Chetek area that was completely destroyed leaving dozens without a place to live.
WEAU provided more than three hours of non-stop weather coverage, according to Director of Promotions and Creative Services, Andrew Felix. He said one viewer said on live TV that they saw the station’s coverage so they took cover.
“I was watching you guys faithfully there, and you kept saying to take cover, so I did.”
After they saw the damage, several staff members wanted to do a fundraiser to help the families that were homeless.
Felix said he reached out to the Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake which was handling the fundraising efforts. They had received a $1 million matching grant from a local resident for their fundraising efforts.
WEAU pitched the idea of having a fundraiser in its parking lot. Working with the church, the station organized the fundraiser in about one week.
The fund drive was held June 14 and viewers were asked to drop off cash and check donations. They received more than 600 individual donations ranging from $1 to thousands of dollars.
During the one day fundraising effort they raised $40,250, far exceeding the organizer’s expectations. The money raised will be part of the match and will total $80,500 in donations and all of the funds raised will go directly to families in need to help them rebuild their lives.
“This fundraiser proved that local TV is still strong,” Felix said.