Driver residents raise money for tornado victims

Published 11:10 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2011

While residents of the Gloucester area continue recovering from the deadly April 16 tornado there, some folks in Suffolk are extending a helping hand.

Ken Parsons, a Driver business owner, said he came up with the idea soon after the tornado, which killed two people and destroyed hundreds of buildings, including Page Middle School.

Parsons and other Driver business owners felt a kinship with Gloucester because of Suffolk’s own experience with a tornado that tore through portions of the city, including the village of Driver, on April 28, 2008, destroying or damaging many of the community’s businesses.

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“As soon as it happened to them, we were all out here talking and throwing cornhole,” Parsons said. “We said, ‘We’ve got to do something to help.’”

And help they did. Through the regular cornhole games, the Suffolk residents raised $350 for the band department at Paige Middle School. The check will be presented tonight at 6 p.m.

Friends and neighbors gather in a backyard in Driver on Wednesday nights for cornhole, a beanbag-toss game. But when the focus changed to raising money for Gloucester, the gathering outgrew the backyard and moved to The Knot Hole Station, at 3129 Kings Highway.

Parsons contacted Gloucester officials, who said the middle school particularly needed help. The band department had lost all its instruments and other equipment, Parsons learned.

“We wanted to do something specific so that we knew where the money went,” Parsons said.

The last few weeks, dozens have been showing up every Wednesday, and some Fridays, to play for $2 per game. Winners receive medals, and those who accrue five medals can turn them in for a trophy.

But the important thing is that the money is being raised to help the children, Parsons said.

“It’s been a really fun, good social event,” Parsons said. “We would love to have more players out here.”

The games will continue through September. The goal is to raise $1,000 for the middle school band.

To get updates on the cornhole games, including the medal count, visit the Driver Events Facebook page. The public is welcomed and encouraged to participate in tonight’s event or any future games.