Benefit Concert Raises Thousands for Tornado Victims

As of Monday, the benefit concert had raised more than $25,000

A benefit concert organized by NBC 5, the Salvation Army, and the City of Garland raised thousands of dollars that will directly benefit tornado victims.

"People have just come in and they just started offering anything, and offering to do stuff for us, without hesitation," said concert organizer Vicky Gillispie.

Gillispie began putting the concert together with her daughter, Geree Hayes, the day after the tornado touched down. By Sunday afternoon the donations were piling up.

The benefit concert raised a total of $25,826.50 with Dallas electric utility company Stream and their independent associates providing $17,154.50 in matching funds.

"It was an amazing day and we were so blessed to raise almost $26,000 in just 15 days," said Gillispie.

All proceeds will benefit North Texas tornado victims, but Hayes said the concert also gave those impacted by the storms a chance to take a break from the ongoing cleanup effort.

"I think it's important for them to come and take a breather. Going forward they're going to need so much help beyond this time," Hayes said. "To see the outpouring of love - be it their time, be it their resources, whatever it is - I would think this would give them a renewed sense of spirit."

Headlining the concert was country music recording artist, and Garland resident, SaraBeth. She said gracing the stage in her hometown was especially meaningful. Though she now lives in Nashville she's been able to garner support from across the country for victims.

"It's home. You want to help your people and the people in Garland and Rowlett are my people," she said. "My Facebook feed is still full of people that are saying, 'How can we help? What can we do? Who do we need to speak to? How can we make this happen?' It may take time, but we will definitely rebuild."

Garland Mayor Douglas Anthas addressed the audience at the end of the concert. He made it a point to refer to those families impacted by the storm as survivors, instead of victims.

"It's important to recognize who we are, and understand who we are, and know that we're going to be well through this," said Anthas. "We are survivors and we're tough people. We're Texans."

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