How did 700 pounds of donations for tornado relief travel from Massachusetts to Conway? By recreational vehicle, of course!

John Albers of Russellville and his wife Linda recently traveled to Medway, Mass., to purchase a used RV. The previous owner, Susan Wood, had heard about the April 27 tornado and asked Albers if he lived in the community that suffered damage. When he said he lived nearby, she offered to collect supplies if he would deliver them. He agreed, and she responded by holding a drive in her community that collected 700 pounds of donations to fill up the RV’s six storage compartments.

Albers contacted Maret Cahill, executive director of the United Way of Central Arkansas, about finding a place to put the supplies. As a United Way partner agency and one with adequate storage space, Community Action Program for Central Arkansas (CAPCA) was selected as the site to store the donations until they are distributed.

Albers said, "People really turned out in response. At first they were a little suspicious, but when (Wood) mentioned United Way, apparently that’s a pretty good name.

He said when he saw the amount of donations collected by the Medway community, he was not sure all of it would fit in the motor home.

"My thoughts were, ‘Wow. Seven hundred pounds. That’s more than I can pick up."

He continued, "They’re very nice people. She spent a lot of time boxing all that stuff up and labeling it. She had it all sorted. It wasn’t just a pile of stuff. The way they weighed it was she had her son stand on the bathroom scale and she handed him one box at a time, and then she subtracted his weight."

Albers drove the RV into the CAPCA parking lot on Tuesday, where he was greeted by Cahill and a group of CAPCA employees who swiftly unloaded the RV.

"We were glad to have help," he said. "They just kind of swarmed out of that building and started unloading it."

With the load delivered to those who can get it to tornado victims, Albers noted, "My wife Linda started crying looking at how bad it is in Mayflower. On the way back with the load, she said, ‘They’re really going to need this.’ We were very glad to do it."

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson may be reached at 501-505-1236 or