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Clinton, Iowa, company sends relief to Kentucky after deadly tornadoes

Food, toys, clothing and more are supporting those in need right now.

CLINTON, Iowa — After a deadly surge of storms and tornadoes swept through the Midwest in mid-Dec., donations have been pouring into affected areas. Locally, one business is using a professional connection to make a very human impact. 

UFP Technologies, a subassemblies, products and packaging facility in Clinton, IA, gathered 20,000 water bottles, along with toys, food and clothing to send down to Mayfield, KY. 

The town, now infamous for being leveled in the storm, is also home to the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, which collapsed during the storm, killing 8 people. 

For staff at UFP, the destruction of MCP's facility hits close to home. 

Before the storm, the candle factory had been one of UFP's largest customers. UFP provided packaging for the candles and made daily shipments down to the Mayfield plant. 

"Our plants are very similar in structure, so to think that if (the storm) would have made a slight course change, it could have been us," said Matt LaMere, plant manager at UFP. "So it hits home." 

LaMere said once his colleagues heard the news about MCP's destruction and loss of life, they knew they needed to step up and help out. 

Within three days, UFP had purchased 500 water bottle cases and started making plans for a delivery, using its own trucks and drivers. That's when management began opening up the donations to employees, asking for Christmas toys, food and winter clothing. Not even 14 hours later, LaMere said staff had brought in enough supplies to fill four large gaylords (large boxes on pallets, typically around four feet tall).

LaMere said he couldn't be more proud of his employees.  

"It makes me feel great! Just walking back here to talk to you guys I was stopped twice asking if people could still give more things," he said. "This is a factory of employees that is pouring their hearts out to try and help people." 

One overflowing gaylord, filled with nerf guns, makeup, dolls, food, winter coats and more, is thanks to one employee in particular. 

Josh McCool only began working at UFP five months before the storms hit Mayfield. The packer said when he saw all of the children that were going to be celebrating the holidays without their homes, toys and belongings, he knew what he needed to do. 

"That night I just went to the bank and came back and told them to get the kids some stuff," he said. 

McCool gave $1,000 - enough for an entire pallet of supplies. It came from a recent inheritance he had received from his late grandfather. McCool told News 8 that donating the money was exactly what his grandfather would have wanted.

"I just hope it brings a smile, at least to the kids," he said. "I know it's gonna be hard for the adults, but the kids can forget a little bit." 

It's that act of giving that LaMere hopes will pop up in other local businesses 

"It's Christmas... and people are without homes," said LaMere. "We hope that the companies around us - no matter how big or small - they can do something similar." 

UFP Technologies was able to fill two giant delivery trucks with all of their donations. Those vehicles made their trip down to Mayfield on Sat., Dec. 18.