‘Tornado Savers’

Local kids organize free food stand for workers

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Friday morning, the Dolfie and SyWassink children teamed up to open their own food and beverage stand at the Dolfie residence, 712 Jerome Street, handing out free sandwiches, fruit and drinks to emergency response workers. Since that time, they have served countless passersby. Left to right: Lincoln, Della, Leona, Paisley and Ella.

In times of darkness, flickers of light emerge from the cracks. A group of six children, who reside along Jerome Street, decided their corner of the world could be a friendlier, more supportive space than the chaos around them.

The Dolfies: Lincoln, 7 , Leona, 8, and Ella, 4, and their neighbors: Paisley, 7, Della, 7 and Cypress, 3, SyWassink joined forces to set up a food and beverage stand in front of the Dolfie residence, 712 Jerome Street.

When the storm hit Thursday afternoon, the children were with Bethany SyWassink, who trades off with Katie Dolfie in watching the youth day to day. After accessing the damage around them, the kids decided they wanted to provide complimentary refreshments for the men and women out surveying the damage and picking up the rubble. They dubbed their stand the “Tornado Savers.”

“We thought about how hard they were working out there,” Leona said.

“After the tornado hit they were determined to help the community and thought they could walk around and offer cookies and water. For safety reasons, we set up a table and made a sign instead,” Katie said.

Friday morning, they had their tent pitched in the yard, where it has stayed ever since.

“We didn’t stop for breaks — just ate some chips and granola bars from time to time,” Leona added.

Emergency response vehicles of all kinds have pulled up to the residence the last few days, grabbing a quick bite to eat for the road.

“They take turns, making sure someone is always (at the stand),” Katie said. “They’re making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and offering chips, water and lemonade. They had donuts one morning. It’s all free, but any donations they get go to buying more food.”

The kids’ stand doesn’t have set hours, but they have been most active during the afternoon. They also walk and go around the neighborhood handing out these goodies.

“I like being nice,” Della said.

Lincoln and Paisley both said they look at this opportunity to serve others as an adventure.

“It’s fun, and we get to help workers,” Lincoln said.

Both mothers are quick to say these efforts are completely driven by their kids.

“They even made a menu of what they offer, to show people who just drive up and don’t get out of their car,” Bethany said.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com