Mizzou hoops assisting with tornado relief

If you've seen images of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Mo. -- which left at least 117 people dead and as many as 1,500 still unaccounted for as of Tuesday afternoon -- you know the small Missouri town is in desperate need of assistance. Coach Frank Haith and the rest of the Missouri men's basketball program are doing their best to aid in that effort.

Per a release from the school Tuesday, residents in Columbia, Mo., and the surrounding areas can donate to the relief effort by bringing children's food, stuffed animals and sanitary items to the east side of the Hearnes Center on Wednesday. Haith and his staff, who have partnered with United Way's "United for Joplin" campaign, will drive to Joplin Thursday to deliver the items.

Missouri is also assisting the Joplin relief effort with a T-shirt promotion. The university is producing a T-shirt -- available in campus bookstores and online -- featuring the words "One State. One Spirit. One Mizzou" and the date of the Joplin tornado, "5-22-11," on the front. The shirts are $14.95, and all proceeds from the purchases will go to the United Way's relief effort.

This summer has been a brutal one for tornadoes, not least of came in late April in Alabama. Like Haith, Alabama coach Anthony Grant also led relief efforts, participating in a benefit telethon and establishing a fund for victims of the storms that wreaked havoc throughout the state.

Like Grant, Haith's efforts in Missouri are commendable and worth emulating. If you're in the area, drop off what you can. Pick up a T-shirt if you like. Otherwise, you can click here for a list of ways to help the relief effort in Joplin, including a $10 donation to the Red Cross, which is as simple as sending the phrase "REDCROSS" in a text message to 90999. For the price of a taxi ride or two lattes at Starbucks, you can help an unsuspecting town recover from the likes of this. Easy call.