Jayson Geisler in front of his van as he holds donations from members of the community. | Emily Geisler
IDAHO FALLS – A local man is on a mission to provide resources and supplies for those impacted by the tornado in Kentucky, and he’s asking for your help.
After hearing the news last weekend, Jayson Geisler of Idaho Falls, who recently retired from the Army, decided on a whim to fill up an entire van with donations collected from members of the community and personally deliver it to the Bluegrass State.
Jayson started a duct cleaning business in September, which he operates out of a van. When asked why he’s doing this, his wife, Emily, tells EastIdahoNews.com simply “because he can.”
“He works when he wants,” Emily explains. “The week of Christmas, no one wants him coming into their house and cleaning out their HVAC system so this is what he’s going to be doing.”
And the response to his effort since he announced it on Facebook earlier this week has been overwhelming.
“Just the first day, I had four different people or groups show up at my work in Ammon and by the time I went home, my little SUV was full to the roof of bicycles and toys, jackets, blankets, clothes and towels,” Emily says.
The couple has also received numerous cash donations, which they use to purchase more supplies at local retailers.
Bike and skateboard donation | Emily Geisler
Emily says she’s been impressed with people’s generosity, many of whom have donated skateboards and other toys to help thousands of displaced families have a good Christmas. One family even contributed $1,000 in cash.
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“I was absolutely speechless,” says Emily.
Despite the stunning response, Emily says they’ve still got a ways to go to fill up the Dodge Ram Promaster high-top van.
“He took all of his work equipment out of it so that he can fill it to the top,” she says.
A graphic Emily made showing how full the van is, as of Saturday morning. | Emily Geisler
After speaking with government officials in Kentucky, Emily says they’re still in need of toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and other toiletry items, as well as children’s underwear, socks, clothing, blankets and toys.
“New toys are a big one because these poor kids — I’m looking at my Christmas tree that has had presents under it for weeks now. I can’t imagine these parents (who have probably) told their kids for weeks, ‘You can open presents on Christmas,’ and now they’re gone,” says Emily.
Officials in Kentucky are asking any donated toys to remain unwrapped because they have a team there that’s working to wrap them and make sure they’re delivered to the right place.
The Geislers are accepting donations through Monday night.
Once all the supplies have been gathered, Jayson and his son are planning to make the 23 and a half hour trek to Mayfield, Kentucky, where people were impacted the most, on Tuesday at 5 a.m. They’ll be dropping off clothing and blankets at the Mayfield County Fairgrounds before taking the toys to the police department in Paduka.
There aren’t many hotel rooms available due to damage caused by the storm, so Emily says they’re planning to drive nonstop and sleep in the van. They hope to arrive back in Idaho Falls on Thursday, depending on the weather.
“It’s really exciting and it’s fun to see people willing to donate. It makes my heart happy, too,” Emily says.
Donations can be dropped off anytime this weekend at 350 Pevero Drive in Idaho Falls or on Monday at the Bank of Commerce in Ammon where Emily works. It’s at 3113 South 25th East.
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