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Pinckneyville, Ill., Builds Hope for Joplin, Mo., Tornado Victims (ContributorNetwork)

Residents of Pickneyville, Ill., are familiar with the hazards of living in tornado country, so when they were given a chance to be a part of the rebuilding effort for Joplin, Mo., one of the communities devastated by a tornado in May.

Contempri Homes in Pinckneyville will donate the facility and materials to build a two-bedroom, 1,200 square-foot home to be given to a family that lost everything in the storm. The project is part of Extreme Makeover Home Edition's plan to build seven homes in seven days in the community that suffered as much as $3 billion in damages from the tornado. More than 100 people died in the storm.

Brad Perry, Contempri's chief operating officer, said, "If you've got a heart for service and can handle a paintbrush or a hammer, we encourage you to join us. We've had calls from groups and individuals from three or four states, offering to help but we'd like to offer the volunteer openings to residents of our home region first. When it's all said and done this is about getting a family back in their home, and I feel confident in our ability as a community to do that."

Contempri was asked to participate by Sher-wood Forest Homes of Joplin, a retailer that sells Contempri homes. The company was too busy to just add another house to its work schedule, but that didn't mean they didn't want to help.

So, they put together a plan. With enough volunteers, a house could be built in 36 to 40 hours, using the Contempri facilities and supervised by Contempri staff. The company is supplying the materials and the know-how; the community is supplying the labor.

Up to 300 could participate in the marathon building session which will start just after midnight on a Friday night and conclude in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Construction starts at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 8.

Once the house is completed, it will be wrapped in white plastic and all the volunteers will be asked to sign the shipping materials with words of hope for Joplin. That afternoon volunteers will hold a celebratory barbeque, then Pickneyville Police Chief John Griffin will drive escort as the home is delivered to Joplin, about seven hours away.

The finishing touches for the home, including cabinets, will be added beginning the week of Oct. 19 when Extreme Makeover Home Edition arrives in Joplin to film its special broadcast.

Local residents wanting to volunteer must be 18 years old or have a signed parental permission slip and be prepared to work a two hour shift at any time between 12:01 Oct. 8 and 6 a.m. Oct. 9. Volunteers must also attend a mandatory Volunteer Rally on Oct. 5. Volunteers should register at Pickneyville Builds Hope.

Lucinda Gunnin cut her teeth as a reporter covering Illinois news as an intern in the statehouse pressroom. She now brings 20 years insight and experiences to covering Illinois issues.

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