Rochelle family cooks for community despite losses on April 9 - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rochelle family cooks for community despite losses on April 9


One Rochelle family is using unique culinary skills to care for the community,  even after the family's own home was ripped apart by the tornado.

It's a Wednesday evening in the Thiravong household, and the kitchen is bustling. Lani, Megan and their friend Bella are busy peeling, scooping, rolling and frying egg rolls to perfection. 

They are making a family recipe passed down from their parents with a twist. 

"Our egg rolls have kale in them," Megan Thiravong said. 

It's a tradition the girls say they enjoy cooking in their kitchen anytime they get.  However, rewind to a year ago, and the girls had no kitchen.

"She said, 'I don't know if you'll want to go back there. There may not be anything to go back to,'" Megan said. 

Flattened, shredded, demolished, destroyed; that's what parents Watsana and Chico Thiravong came back to after a family trip to the kid's book fair. An F-4 tornado ripped through their neighborhood, while they took shelter at the kids' elementary school. 

"It was like a bomb blew off in our neighborhood. It was shocking and sad," Chico said. 

But no more than two hours later, help came from as far as Florida and Indiana. 

Swarms of people showed up to what used to be their home to help the Thiravongs pick up the pieces. 

"They've helped us so we want to help them back," Megan said. 

So as soon as a kitchen was available, the girls fired up the fryer and began rolling. They wanted to pay forward and help those in need in the tastiest way possible. 

Big batches of egg rolls were hand made, not to be sold for profit but instead to go toward helping other tornado victims and Rochelle residents in need. 

The Thiravong girls fry egg rolls for volunteers in Rochelle.

Every week, it was back in the kitchen for these girls so more donations could be collected at Rochelle's summer market. 

The girls are back in new bedrooms and a new home. Construction is almost complete, but they say their work in a new kitchen isn't. 

"We collected $3,000 and 150 shoes for kids in the Rochelle area in need, but we want to do more," Megan said. 

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