DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WEHT) Instead of traveling to other towns that have Walmart stores, employees from several area Walmarts went to Dawson Springs to help residents rebuild from the tornado, and regain some of the Christmas spirit.

Before the tornado, the high school gym would have been full of either high school students for gym class or people watching the Panthers play basketball. Instead, it’s full of people trying to reclaim what they lost just days before Christmas.

“The mission was bring a little taste of Christmas to an area that’s going through a tragedy,” said Margaret Hayes, manager of the Walmart in Princeton, Ky.

From sweaters to Santa Claus, it was to help make spirits bright three days before Christmas.

“I’m shopping for my granddaughter and a grandson that’s a year old,” said Pam Miles of Dawson Springs. “Where he was staying, it got tore up.”

“It’s going to give the family Christmas presents. It helped us out wonderful. Lets us put gifts under the tree,” adds Marvin Massey of Dawson Springs.

“I know for a fact there’s a lot of people in need around here,” said Braelynn Vincent of Dawson Springs.

Walmart workers and volunteers spent 20 hours setting up a temporary Christmas store for families to get toys and bikes for the kids and other things they may need for free. Nearly five hundred families were expected to shop in school today, some very close to Hayes.

“I have a lot of my associates come from this area. 13 associates lost their homes. It’s very personal to me, and big in the community,” she recalled. “To do it here in a community like this, I’m overwhelmed with joy.”

Hayes say they wanted to help tornado victims and also bring some of the Christmas spirit back. Some shoppers appreciated the assistance to their little community.

“It’s a blessing. It is a blessing that they’re coming here. Not only them, but just about everybody that’s showed support for our little community,” said Miles.

Walmart managers say this isn’t the first time they’ve had events like this. They held similar ones in Mayfield and Bowling Green in recent days.

(This story was originally published on December 22, 2021)