Grant Sloan, News On 6
JOPLIN, Missouri -- The Joplin tornado last May leveled a third of the town, leaving nothing but a wasteland, but a Green Country business is planting new hope in the community by giving away more than $40,000 worth of trees Labor Day weekend.
Before the sun rose, hundreds of Joplin residents waited outside Lowe's.
"I was afraid it would be like Walmart after Thanksgiving so there was going to be a long line so I wanted to get her first," said tornado survivor Jan Finney.
"Same thing with me," said Linda Finley, another Joplin tornado survivor. "I thought it was more like Toys ‘R' Us, but it wasn't"
Finney and Finley never met before, but they already related to each other. Finney lost two commercial properties in the tornado and Finley's home was destroyed. Both say they were thankful for the gift.
"I think it is just fantastic for Lowe's to do this for Joplin citizens," Finney said. "It was so sad to see all of our trees go, much less the properties, but we need the trees back in."
Heidi Berry of Berry Family Nurseries in Hulbert said, "We're encouraging them to replace a tree lost or just add a new tree to plant hope and remember that they're going to rebuild and they're going to recover from this."
Lowe's teamed up with Berry Family Nurseries to give away 1,000 trees this Labor Day weekend.
"Everybody, obviously, concentrates on housing and rebuilding structures and that's all so important but we wanted to also bring to light that the trees were gone and damaged too and people are going to miss those," Berry said.
Everyone in line was excited to get a tree and plant hope back in their community.
"This is Lowe's' way and Berry Family Nurseries' way of saying, ‘Let's rebuild Joplin. Let's rebeautify it and make it look good for the people moving back into their new homes," said Josh Hayes, Lowe's assistant store manager.
While helping to beautify Joplin, these trees have also helped Finney and Finley gain a new friendship.
"Yes we are, tree friends, tree friends," they said.
Berry Family Nurseries has two more plans in the works to bring even more trees to Joplin, including a partnership with Walmart to plant a tree for each life lost in that devastating tornado.