PLYMOUTH — Bringing cash, clothing, furniture and experience borne of responding to other natural disasters, a group of Granite Staters led by Common Man CEO Alex Ray is in Kentucky, helping the victims of deadly tornadoes that struck the Blue Grass State on Dec. 10 and 11.
A truck and trailer carrying donations from Flip’n Furniture and Ladders Thrift, both in Plymouth and both nonprofits that support The Bridge House Shelter in the town, left New Hampshire at 5 a.m. last Friday and have since met up with Ray, who flew down to Kentucky, according to Erica Auciello Murphy on Sunday.
The director of communications and community relations for The Common Man Family of restaurants, Murphy said Ray, who was not immediately available for comment, is assisting World Central Kitchens, a charity that Ray worked with most recently in Abaco, the Bahamas, after it was struck in 2019 by Hurricane Dorian.
Before he left for Kentucky, Ray spoke briefly on Dec. 16 outside Ladders Thrift, where he was joined by Sue Jehl, who manages the two Ladders stores that are opposite each other on Main Street.
Asked when he got the idea for “Kindness for Kentucky,” which has teamed with World Central Kitchen and the American Red Cross, Ray replied that the effort came together only a day earlier.
“I felt I was very late,” he said, adding he also felt sad because of his delay, “but there’s still a need down there,” which is why he reached out to Jehl, the folks at Flip’n Furniture and also to Mount Prospect Academy, which transported the materials to Kentucky.
Through Dec. 31, “Kindness for Kentucky” will also accept monetary donations at any Common Man restaurant that Ray, who founded the Common Man in 1971, will match up to a total of $100,000 raised for all charities combined.
As of Sunday, 29 persons donated $3,085 through https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/commonman-pub.html/, while $8,698 of $25,000 sought had been donated to World Central Kitchen through the Common Man portal at https://donate.wck.org/fundraiser/3629270.
Jehl said the 60 bags of clothing that Ray collected from her stores will help a wide range of persons, from newborn to adult, who were impacted by the tornadoes.
Prior to Kentucky, Ray most recently provided aid and his own energy to World Central Kitchen’s response to Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Dorian struck the Bahamas in what has been described as that country’s worst natural disaster.
Ray spent two weeks on Abaco, one of the hardest hit islands.
Previously, Ray has traveled to Puerto Rico in 2017, Louisiana in 2005, and Honduras in 1998 to help after hurricanes Maria, Katrina and Mitch, respectively. He also went to Haiti to help after a 2010 earthquake. Through the nonprofit Honduras Hope, Ray funded the construction of a culinary and hospitality school in that country.