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Volunteers coming in all sizes

Posted: May 10, 2014 - 6:17pm

VILONIA — An official with the Vilonia Disaster Recovery Alliance describes one volunteer that spent many hours helping with tornado relief efforts as the “true face of Vilonia.”

Sandy Towles, VDRA volunteer, was referring to volunteer, 10-year-old Kinsley Williams who was in the kitchen at the Senior Citizen’s center the morning after the tornado and all week washing dishes.

“Now this is the true face of Vilonia,” Towles said, pointing to the youngster who was positioned on a stool to give her height. “Look out in the community and you will see kids volunteering. Families over here teach them to give back to their community. Little Kinsley could have stayed home and had a few days off from school but she didn’t want to do that.”

The volunteering didn’t appear to be a big deal to Williams. Mature and articulate for her age, she said,

“I’m pretty little. There’s not a lot I can do but I can wash dishes and clean the tables when the bigger people, who are helping in other areas, come in here to eat.”

Just hours after the tornado hit, Williams began volunteering alongside all of the others—all who are more than twice her age and twice her size. She assigned herself the job of washing dishes and cleaning tables at the center. That’s where the VDRA was set up serving hot meals and handing out supplies. The youngster was at the center every morning and stayed all day, each day, working, Towles said.

Williams took an adult role, Towles said, with the recovery alliance and she provided a valuable service to volunteers allowing them to concentrate in other areas.

“She’s washing big old pans almost bigger than she is,” Towles said, one evening. “She just keeps washing. And, she’s doing a good job.”

Williams, Towles said, also thanked all of the volunteers, many from out of the area, while she was busing tables. “She’s just a doll,” Towles added. And, she played songs on the center’s piano.

“She’s just a good little ambassador for our town,” she added.

Asked one evening, while she was in the kitchen working, if she was tired, Williams said. “I feel tired but I really feel guilty. At our house, there’s nothing bad. There’s not even a leaf on the ground. Other people lost everything. “

She compared the destruction in Vilonia to a movie on television but “I know it’s real.” She said she is saddened when she passes by the demolished homes.

Williams also volunteered with VDRA in 2011 during the tornado relief efforts.

The VDRA team took her door to door helping with the delivery of lunches and supplies, Towles said. “In Vilonia, we start our kids volunteering at a young age,” Towles said.

The youngster’s mother, Lori Williams, is a Vilonia Middle School teacher and also a bus driver.

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