Local Catholic schools and parishes are collecting donations to aid the many families in St. Patrick School and Church in Washington, Ill., who lost everything when an EF4 tornado ripped through their community last Sunday.

“It’s a Washington to Washington effort,” said Mr. Rick Danzeisen, Our Lady of Lourdes principal.

Along with Lourdes, St. Francis Borgia Grade School and Parish, St. Gertrude Grade School and Parish and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School are seeking cash and gift cards for about 90 St. Patrick families.

“Those families have nothing left — nothing, so we thought if we all pulled together we could make a real difference in helping them as they try and pick up the pieces,” Danzeisen said.

St. Patrick School and Church were not damaged, he said, and are open.

“But to have 90 families impacted in a parish, that’s a lot and we want to help,” he added.

Gift cards to stores like Target and Wal-Mart would be especially beneficial, he said, or fast food restaurants. Cash donations also would be helpful.

People can drop off donations at any of the schools and churches. For more information, people may call Danzeisen at 636-239-5292.

The collection will run until Dec. 10.

The Washington School District also is collecting cash donations to help those directly impacted by the tornado. Donations were being accepted at all school offices until Friday, Nov. 22.

According to reports, approximately 120 people were injured and between 250 and 500 buildings were damaged or destroyed in that Illinois town.

Public and Catholic school officials here said the two towns not only share a name, but are similar in size.

Washington, Ill., is located in the central part of the state, just east of the Illinois River, and has a population of roughly 15,000 people.

In comparison, Washington, Mo., sits on the Missouri River and has almost 14,000 residents.

Residents also can donate to relief efforts by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by visiting the American Red Cross website.