Hopkins Co. girl and family help tornado victims celebrate holidays


MADISONVILLE, Ky. (WEHT) With Christmas less than a week away, a Hopkins County girl and her family raise thousands of dollars to help tornado victims and others who lost everything earlier this month celebrate the holidays.

On the last weekend before Christmas, Aubree Vanvactor and her family bought Christmas presents, enough presents to fill their kitchen and living room.

“We kind of bought all we could buy,” said Megan Grant, Aubree’s mother.

But they aren’t for them, they’re for those who lost everything more than a week ago.

“I was sad that all the people lost their homes. I felt bad for them,” said Aubree.

Aubree said she wanted to buy presents for local tornado victims, using $63 she saved up this year. It started after seeing the devastation in her dad’s neighborhood near Earlington, where she was two hours before the tornado hit.

“She’d seen all the neighbors houses, and it really struck a nerve with her. So, she came back to my house on Sunday, came back from her dad after she had seen the devastation, and brought me the money,” Grant recalled.

She and Justin, Aubree’s father, wanted to help their daughter and see who else could help.

“I reached out to a few people that I know, family members and such, and said, ‘Hey, can we help her out?’ Somebody was like, ‘Yeah, put something on Facebook,'” Justin recalled.

He started with a goal of raising $100, but it climbed to a jaw dropping more than $2,900.

“We had our big donor, which is a guy out of Nashville that her stepdad got in touch with, got in touch with him, and said he would match up to $1,000 if she raised $1,000, because he said he wanted her to realize how far her voice could go,” Justin said.

The family bought toys, clothes, car seats and other items, many that will be donated to Operation Save Christmas, which started after the tornado hit and other toy drives. The family also plans to donate money they didn’t use. Aubrey hopes the gifts bring smiles to those who need a smile the most.

“I’m happy,” said Aubree. “They’re going to probably be really excited and happy.”

(This story was originally published on December 19, 2021)

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