VILONIA — Vilonia alumn Timothy Sowder couldn’t take time off from medical school to come and physically help the community following the April 25 tornado. Yet, he is helping through other efforts. Last week, he presented Vilonia Primary School with $1,000 of $5,000 that has been raised from T-shirt sales.

He plans to give each of the other four Vilonia campuses $1,000 as well to help with tornado relief. Accepting the donation at the primary school, principal Susan Loyd said her staff is conducting a needs assessment with families, who have children attending the school, and that need assistance.

Sowder came up with the T-shirt idea and enlisted the help of a college buddy to help with the design. Donna Ellis at V Town Tees joined the effort and began turning them out. 

They are currently being sold for $15 each at V Town Tees and the 8 Mile Store. Susan Dickson, owner of the 8 Mile Store and 64 Country Store, Sowder said, has made a major contribution purchasing about 30 shirts, including one for each employee. The T-shirts are red with a picture of an eagle with the wording “The Eagles Will Soar Again.”

Sowder’s mother, Elizabeth Sowder, is a teacher at the primary school and is assisting with the fundraising.

According to school officials, donations have also been given to the school by a couple of other elementary schools including Badger Elementary from Beebe who brought donated items to the primary school’s food drive for tornado victims.  

A group of fourth-grade students from the “Kindness and Compassion Club” personally delivered their non-perishable goods May 18. Also, a Mena school sent a donation.