ONLY ON 3: Local woman, daughter help Alabama storm victims


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A local woman with ties to Alabama is giving back in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes there last month. Dolly Symonds is proof that it only takes one to make a big difference.

Symonds and her daughter both have masters degrees from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, which was the site of mass tornado destruction in April.

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“I loved the time that I spent in Tuscaloosa, and the tragedy that occurred there was just heart-wrenching,” Symonds said.

She said her time in Tuscaloosa shaped who she is today. When she saw the devastation, she knew she had to help.

Symonds placed fliers around her neighborhood and in local businesses.

Sarah Pepper donated items at Memories of a Child in Ogden. She said it’s the least she can do.

“It’s frightening to see how quickly everyone can be so devastated, and we are so fortunate,” Pepper said.

Store co-owner Jon Messina said his customers have been enthusiastic about donating to the victims in Alabama.

“I’m very excited to be able to help out other people that are in need besides our community,” Messina said. “Anywhere we can help is for the best.”

Pepper said, “You can always give back. It doesn’t have to be much, but it’s important for everyone to do the best that they can with the time and the amount that they are given.”

“Just because the tornado is done, doesn’t mean that these people aren’t still hurting,” Symonds said. “And they still need things to replace stuff that they lost.”

Symonds is so thankful for abundant community support, but says her minivan can’t hold everything that’s been donated. Because of the overwhelming response, she said she’s planning on taking several more trips to Alabama, but she needs a big truck haul the donations.

If you’re interested in getting involved, you can e-mail Symonds at You can also drop off donations at Memories of a Child in Ogden or Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington.