JACKSON, Miss. (4/30/10)--Credit unions in Mississippi are pitching in to help communities after a tornado plowed through the state last weekend, killing 12 and damaging hundreds of homes. No credit unions have reported damages to the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) after the tornado hit, said Amy Manley, league corporate relations manager. BenchSmart FCU, Yazoo City--a community hit hardest by the storm--is providing care baskets with personal items to be delivered to affected individuals. Dawn Parks, BenchSmart president/CEO, used the MSCUA listserv to ask credit unions in the state to help, said Mansel Guerry, MS Employees FCU president/CEO, Jackson. Guerry said his credit union donated to the effort, and donations are still pouring in. As of press time, donations were pushing $10,000, he told News Now. “I called Dawn yesterday to check on her,” Guerry said. “She had just stepped out from buying items for people. She went out and bought items without knowing what people would donate [to cover the costs]. She took it upon herself to help.” The tornado hit Yazoo City on Saturday around noon, Guerry said. While Benchsmart was not open during the storm--the credit union is not open on Saturdays, Guerry said--and did not suffer any damages, many community members suffered damage. “It was a pretty rough hit,” he said. “The governor went up there after the storm and likened the damage to Hurricane Katrina.” Guerry said his area, which is about 45 miles from Yazoo City, was under a tornado watch for much of Saturday. “We were constantly monitoring the weather,” he said. “It was pretty touch-and-go, and everyone was on alert.” Guerry said the efforts credit unions are making to help people in the area exemplifies the philosophy of the credit union movement. Messages exchanged yesterday on the listserv questioned whether local banks would send each other messages to try and raise money to help tornado victims--but “I doubt it,” Guerry said. As for credit unions, “we are there to support each other,” he said. “That’s the real takeaway from this.” News Now contacted Parks for a comment. She was out delivering care baskets to the community.