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story.lead_photo.caption Brandy Brockes, center, discusses plans for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors raffle in California. The group of six business owners will disperse raffle tickets throughout the community for tornado victims in Jefferson City and Eldon. Photo by Danisha Hogue / California Democrat.

When Brandy Brockes saw the aftermath of the EF-3 tornado that hit Mid-Missouri on May 22, she knew she wanted to help victims in Eldon and Jefferson City.

Both towns are about 20 miles from California, and the disaster impacted the lives of hundreds.

Within a few days, Stephanie Stokes, Julie Bolinger, Chelsea McGill, Kayle Kiesling and Jenny Cain founded the California Women's Business Council.

"All of us kind of woke up that Thursday morning and thought, 'If we would have been impacted, how can we as a neighbor community can give back?'" Brockes said.

The group decided to form a public sounding board for local female business owners like themselves.

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From that, the project Neighbors Helping Neighbors became their first community undertaking.

People may purchase $20 cash-only raffle tickets for disaster relief beginning Friday. Pickup locations in California are Grind, Brockes Tire, Winding Road Gifts & Interiors, Something Sassy Beauty Salon, Exhale Spa and Elevate Fitness Studio. More locations will be added.

As of Thursday, more than 40 businesses had agreed to donate prizes of $100 value or more. Some prizes include gift certificates to businesses, a year's worth of roses, rental space and Visa gift cards.

"I just think this is what you do for your neighbors," Stokes said. "It's not about how this is going to impact them; it's just about how we can help them."

More businesses and individuals can donate to the raffle through June 15. The raffle drawing will take place on the California Women's Business Council's Facebook page June 17.

"We're hoping with selling 400 tickets that we'll have $8,000 — that's our goal," Brockes said. "If (people) are looking for a way to give back or contribute to local tornado victims, this is a way to do it."

The founders agreed they would be ecstatic to surpass that goal.

"We want to help our friends and our neighbors," Stokes said. "We have customers from Jeff (City and) Eldon. We want to make sure that we're directly impacting them."

Funds will be split between the two impacted communities. A tornado disaster relief bank account was created by the city of Eldon at the area Central Bank location.

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