New Hampshire

NH Grandmother Spending Christmas Serving Kentucky Tornado Victims

Deb Budney of Peterborough is an American Red Cross Volunteer

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A grandmother from New Hampshire is spending her holidays helping victims of the recent devastating tornados in the Midwest and South.

Deb Budney of Peterborough left the morning of Christmas Eve from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, headed to Kentucky.

Budney is a volunteer with the American Red Cross, and told NECN & NBC10 Boston she expects to work 16-hour days staffing a shelter for tornado victims. She said responsibilities will include providing people in the shelter with meals and toiletries, and helping connect them to other services. 

The grandmother of 10 expects to be serving until at least January 7, noting in an interview Friday morning that the length of the deployment could be extended. Because she will miss her family’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations, she said she will have to text or briefly video-chat with her loved ones if and when she can.

“Christmas I can do with my family any time,” Budney said. “But I think those people need me more for Christmas.”

Jordan Baize recently went viral when he played the grand piano in his damaged home — missing its roof after a storm and destructive tornado hit Kentucky on December 10. Though the storm was tragic, it has also brought people together to help rebuild, he says.

The volunteer said she has formed friendships with other Red Cross volunteers on previous deployments. Following Hurricane Ida, Budney supported victims of flooding on a pair of deployments.

“You try to give them a Christmas of some kind,” Budney said of how she will be working in the shelter on the holiday. “I won’t know til I get there if we have a tree set up or if we have a Santa Claus planned. We try to make it as nice as possible for the situation they’re in.”

The retired healthcare worker said because she is experienced with children, she will try to give parents in the shelter breaks by offering to play with their kids when she can.

When NECN & NBC10 Boston recently reported on other New Englanders deploying to the tornado zone, the American Red Cross said it was not accepting donations of food, clothing, or household goods, because it would be too complicated to distribute such items. 

The organization said if you’d like to help, it’s best to either give money or to give blood. To find out how, go to or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Alternatively, you could make a blood donation appointment through the Red Cross Blood Donor app or give $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

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