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Winterset woman draws on experience fundraising for Kentucky tornado victims to help local community

Kolbie Creger collected donations from across the country to buy hygiene supplies for the Red Cross and prepaid gift cards for local families.

WINTERSET, Iowa — After the deadly tornadoes in Madison County earlier this month, the community is rallying together. One Winterset native is taking charge, drawing on her experience helping victims of the Mayfield, Kentucky tornadoes.

Kolbie Creger grew up in Winterset and recently decided to move back home—just a week before the storms hit.

"I've always been proud and love my hometown of Winterset, and seeing the devastation is pretty indescribable," Creger said. "I can't say I've seen anything like it in my lifetime."

Driving along Carver Road in Winterset, it's impossible to miss the destruction the March 5 tornadoes left behind. Trees were uprooted or even ripped apart; houses lost walls and roofs.

Creger spent the day after the tornadoes hit helping a family friend clean up debris around his home. The destruction reminded her of the scene in Mayfield just a few months ago. At the time, she was working in Pella and helped set up a Venmo account where Iowans could donate to assist with recovery efforts. That sparked an idea for how she could help her neighbors after this disaster.

"I'm taking the lessons that I had learned from my experience at Pella and our support of the Mayfield tornado. I just started saying, 'Hey, you can Venmo me.' I use social media for the greater good, which doesn't always happen," Creger said.

RELATED: Family remembers those who perished in central Iowa tornado

Collecting donations from across the country, she was able to purchase hygiene supplies for the Red Cross and prepaid gift cards for local families impacted by the storm. Her message for the community: No matter where you are, there's always a way to help.

"We're just going to continue to grow stronger, and build a stronger community culture that's just really driven by grace," Creger said.

Creger's fundraising has wrapped up now, but if you're interested in helping out there are still other options. The Red Cross and New Bridge Church are both accepting items like clothes and hygiene kits. Find more information on how you can help here.

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