Summit, Miss.-based film extruder Summit Plastics Inc. and sourcing group Blue Water Packaging LLC partnered to help cleanup efforts after an F4 tornado hit Tennessee on March 4, killing 23.
Cookeville, Tenn., which is about 100 miles east of Nashville, was "devastated," accounting for 18 of the 23 people who died in the storm, Randall Cooke, owner of Blue Water Packaging, told Plastics News.
"It was just like bombs went off," said Cooke, who lives in the town. "Two days later we still had two-inch pieces of insulation falling out of the sky. … Pictures don't do it justice."
Cooke and his wife, at 59 and 58 years old, wanted to do something to help their community.
"We're not crippled, but certainly at our age we're not suited to be out there picking up heavy pieces of wood and insulation all day," Cooke said.
The Cookes independently donated $1,000-worth of can liners, bottled water and food to the cleanup effort. But Cooke wanted to keep helping, so he called Tom Nathanson, CEO of Summit Plastics, to buy a pallet of can liners.
"He [Nathanson] said, 'no, I'm not going to let you do that,'" Cooke said.
Summit Plastics instead donated about 12,000 can liners to the cleanup efforts, worth about $3,000.
"All we did was ship some bags," Nathanson said. "It's just the right thing to do."