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'Beauty in hardships': Handmade ornaments going to Kentucky flood victims

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 18:43:43-05

WINCHESTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — Devastating doesn’t even begin to describe the situations we saw in towns like Beattyville, Jackson, and Carlisle that were ravaged by flooding earlier this year. It was storm-of-the-century kind of stuff in those places, and most of those who were impacted either can’t go back or have moved on with their lives elsewhere.

Homes were a total loss. Most of the contents inside were not salvageable. And insurance companies essentially told everyone to take a hike because these weren’t designated flood zones. Very few, if any, residents had coverage for this type of disaster.

Some of the losses were obvious when it comes to clothing, furniture, and appliances. But it’s the little things that add up, and in some cases, matter the most.

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“We know we can’t replace their handmade (Christmas tree) ornaments with all the memories attached to them,” said Samone Ratcliff. “We’re just hoping to help them start a new collection.”

Ratcliff, who works with Just Serve, a national philanthropic organization, had an idea to collect handmade ornaments to be given to flood victims in time for this holiday season. She set out with a goal of receiving 1,000. Today, when they went to bag them all up for distribution, they counted more than 4,500 from 15 states (and more are on the way from Oregon).

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“I will never know who most of these people are (who made the ornaments), and that’s fine. I’ve got them here in my heart,” Ratcliff said.

All kinds of ornaments were sent in but perhaps none more meaningful or poignant than those from New Orleans.

“I love the snowmen that were made from wood from Hurricane Ida,” said Lauren Davis, who also works with Just Serve.

She’s referring to a tree that was destroyed this summer during the powerful hurricane that came through the Gulf Coast. Someone there took pieces from the tree trunk and made the ornaments.

“I love that a disaster could be turned into something beautiful,” Davis said.

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Misery does love company, as the old saying goes. It’s unfortunate, except when something good like this can emerge from the misery.

“…To give them a glimmer of hope that here’s beauty even in hardships,” Davis said.