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Nonprofit in Cedar Rapids still feeling the effects of the derecho

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - The Families Helping Families nonprofit organization is still in need of assistance over a month after the derecho hit eastern Iowa.

This nonprofit provides for families with children in foster care. They have programs for children to have special experiences, and also has clothes for those who may need it, at no cost.

The derecho destroyed one of their storage clothing sheds, resulting in over 100 bags and containers of winter clothing items to be ruined.

“Specifically winter coats, hats, gloves. We lost all of those in the storm. Snow pants, snow boots, and pants in general: leggings, pants, sweatpants, jeans,” Families Helping Families Executive Director Melissa Carlson said.

Donations of winter clothes would benefit the organization, but in order for them to handle the income of donations the organization is also in need of volunteers.

“Volunteers were hard [to find] due to covid and I think the derecho just added another layer of difficulty because people are preoccupied. They’re working on their own homes and doing other things," Carlson said, "We just need help sorting clothing here for our clothing closet. Sorting the clothes and hanging them up. Something that we just don’t always get around to every day.”

Families Helping Families recently received a grant of $7,500 from Variety Children's Charity, as well as $20,000 from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. They were donated to specific programs that the organization provides to children in the foster care system.

The organization has also put together a fundraiser to sell trees to those who might have lost them in the storm. Working with a tree farmer based in Dubuque, you can find Families Helping Families' "Fostering Shade" fundraiser on their website.

“He’s actually giving us a great price on the trees that were turning around and selling as a little bit of a fundraiser for families helping families and helping people replace their lost trees,” Melissa Carlson said.

If you would like to volunteer or donate to Families Helping Families, Melissa Carlson suggests emailing, or calling the nonprofit beforehand.

They are open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Sunday 1pm-3pm, and can be reached at 319-294-9706 and

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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