MIDLOTHIAN, Texas — In the wake of Saturday’s EF-3 tornado, Midlothian Heritage and Waxahachie High School soccer programs are rallying to help Camille Lowery and Kim Jackson, two Midlothian Heritage student-athletes, and their families replace what nature has tried to sweep away.

Jason Venable, Waxahachie’s girls soccer head coach, Gerald Slovacek, Midlothian Heritage’s girls soccer head coach, their teams and supporters gathered canned food items, gift cards and clothing during a donation drive held for the families on Monday at Midlothian Heritage High School.

More than 170 homes were damaged or destroyed by a tornado that tore through northern Ellis County with winds between 145-155 mph, according to county officials and the National Weather Service of Fort Worth.

“Luckily, they weren’t home when it happened,” Slovacek said. “No one reached out to us. We knew what they needed and found a way to help. There’s still a lot of work to be done around here, but we’ll be here as long as it takes to get their lives back on track.”

Slovacek, the Salvation Army and more than 100 volunteers were only a portion of the outpouring of support for the two families. In addition to the more than $2,000 raised in four hours during the drive, they were able to provide totes for the families to put their recovered and donated clothes in, food and the manpower needed to begin dragging debris away from irreplaceable items.

The Lowerys, who were in Winnie visiting their great uncle and aunt during Christmas vacation, found out about the damage from their neighbors’ text messages.

“We were sitting there and we started getting texts asking us if we were OK,” said Camille, a sophomore soccer player. “I knew there were storms down here, but I didn’t know about the tornadoes.”

She said a friend told her there was a tornado on the street opposite of hers and about an hour later, neighbors had confirmed the tornado had hit their home.

“God’s good. I’m in awe, because everyone’s so cool. No one’s looting. A guy I didn’t even know found $300 in a drawer of mine and gave it to me,” said Lee Lowery, Camille’s father. “It’s how you live your life. If you’re good to people, they’ll be good to you.

“Had we’d have been in this house, we’d have been in one of these two rooms,” Lee continued, pointing to the remnants of his demolished master and guest bedrooms. “All of that debris would have been on top of us.”

Camille and her brother Cameron said they were amazed at the amount of love and support that came from Venable, Slovacek and the Waxahachie and Midlothian communities in such a small amount of time.

“People have been so good to us. I don’t know how to thank them the right way,” Camille said. “People we don’t know have been here helping us the entire time. I don’t know how to put it into words, but it’s been amazing.”

Venable said because of his 20-plus years of coaching in Ellis County, springing to the aid of men and women he has lifelong friendships with was a no-brainer — friendships like those with Midlothian High School girls and boys soccer coaches Sid Danner and Austin Guest.

The Waxahachie High School soccer team held its own drive Monday, collecting goods from the Waxahachie area with support from the junior varsity and varsity players and parents. They will present the donations to the Midlothian Heritage players when the junior varsity teams scrimmage at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Midlothian Heritage high School Turf Field.

“I have never lost my home, but I can only imagine having my house, belongings and memories being swept away in one night, much less the night after Christmas,” Venable said. “Our hearts go out to all the families affected by this horrific storm. I feel we can all come together in Ellis County and help one another in such difficult times. This is close to home and we want to help them in any way possible. I know they would do it for us if we were in the same boat.”

Marcus is the sports editor for both the Waxahachie Daily light and Midlothian Mirror. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI. Contact the sports desk at 469-517-1456 and on Twitter by using #WDLsports and #MirrorSportsNB in tweets!