For the past few days, an empty factory that used to house a nut-and-bolt manufacturer has been repurposed as a collecting and staging area for tornado relief and recovery donations.

The Nucor property at 1800 Sturgis Road, just south of Conway, is filling with supplies, food, clothing and people to sort and package it for delivery to local distribution sites.

People can drop off donations there, but it’s not being used as a donation pickup site. 

Instead of clothes, relief organizers are asking people to donate gift cards for businesses that sell clothes.

On Friday, a busload of University of Arkansas athletes from the Razorback volleyball, tennis, basketball and football teams came to volunteer at Nucor. They join more than 7,500 volunteers that have checked in since Saturday, for a total of 60,000 volunteer hours according to Team Rubicon public information officer Wes Craiglow.

Also, Team Rubicon has set up online liability waivers and nondisclosure agreements for volunteers that should speed up the check-in process. Both have to be signed before volunteers are allowed to work.

Instead of reading and signing the waivers at the three volunteer resource centers, volunteers can do them online and then show the completed waivers at check-in on their smartphones or by bringing a printed screen shot.

Volunteer Resource Centers are:

• In Conway at Home Depot in the Conway Commons shopping center on Elsinger Boulevard off I-40 Exit 127 in Conway (the entrance to the shopping center is about a quarter mile east of Exit 127 on East Oak Street);

• In Vilonia at Beryl Baptist Church at 873 Highway 64, about two miles west of the damage area in downtown Vilonia (which has been a volunteer check-in area this week);

• And in Mayflower at the former Mayflower Outdoors building at 57 Interstate Drive.

Team Rubicon will be checking in groups of volunteers, registering and equipping them, and either designating them as teams or assigning them to teams or breaking them into teams. Individual volunteers should expect to be assigned to teams. These teams will be given tasks in the form of work orders, and their progress will be tracked to completion. Workers and teams will be accountable for seeing their jobs through. 

Not all of the jobs involve heavy lifting, but most do. Volunteers who check in with Team Rubicon "wearing shorts and flip-flops," Craiglow said, will be sent away to put on boots and pants if they want to come back.

Volunteers should bring work gloves and eye and ear protection if they have them. If they don't, these will be provided at the VRCs. Transportation to the damage areas will be available for volunteers who want it. 

Anyone who needs help or wants to help can call Team Rubicon’s assistance request/volunteer hotline at (469) 301-1865. Larger groups of ten or more should call the day before they plan to work to help Team Rubicon coordinate the day’s efforts.