Local businessman donates $250,000 in gift cards for tornado victims

By WEEK Producer

February 13, 2014 Updated Feb 13, 2014 at 8:30 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- There is extra incentive for residents who attend the Tornado Recovery meeting in Washington on Wednesday night.

Any Washington resident whose home was destroyed by the tornado will get a $500 Visa gift card.

While November 17, 2013 remains a chilling memory, it is a miracle that inspired John Wieland, the owner of MH Equipment.

"If someone saw what we saw, someone would think there would be death tolls of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people,” Wieland said.

He has donated $250,000 for victims of the storm.

"Give any family a $500 gift card who attends tonight. We hope that they reflect on God's goodness,” Wieland said.

The Salvation Army is helping with distribution for families whose homes or apartments were destroyed.

"We wanted to walk alongside them on their journey and say hey we love you,” Wieland said.

There are no strings attached. It is a Visa card they can use on anything.

"We just wanted be liberal and if you want to just take your family to a movie, we just want to show them that God loves them and there's people praying for them,” Wieland said.

Love and positive thinking hangs on every wall at his work.

"It's more blessed to give than to receive and when people understand that, it's a life changer,” he said.

"I pretty much burst into tears,” said Washington resident Lindsay Alexander. “It really touches my heart that he, the company, is so willing to donate so much money to the people in Washington."

"Material possessions, we all love them, but life is worth living because of relationship in a community and that day the community of Washington just shined,” Wieland said.

The meeting starts 6:30 p.m. at Five Points Washington.

An ID showing the destroyed home address is required for gift card pickup.