On Monday evening the tornado hits and media spreads the devastating news. Jason was working out of town and called me immediately. "Dana, ask around for people to gather supplies. I'm coming home tomorrow and we are going to Oklahoma to help." I get on FB and post a request for supplies. Word spreads to neighbors and friends at church....then they pass the word to others. By Tuesday evening, we are in need of a trailer for all the supplies people donated. Dozens of people went out of their way to donate and I can't even begin to name them all; but I have to give a special shout-out to 3 VERY influential people...Keri Jackson, Amy Jackson, and Jennifer Galek....you ladies are AWESOME!!
Just to give you an idea of the SOME things that were donated: 10 HUGE black garbage bags of clothes, cases of water, hundreds of granola bars, crackers & PB, canned food, baby food, baby formula, 52 MRE's, stuffed animals, toys & books, blankets, boxes & boxes of every toiletry you can think of. I visited Home Depot to purchase goods and the store donated 8 headlamps & 31 pairs of leather work gloves. Jennifer Galek spread the word to those at her work and raised over $1600 - with the money she was able to purchase 20 shovels, 21 flashlights, 40 gloves, 20 baseball caps, ~150 pairs of socks, ~80 pairs of underwear, 15 sports bras, 4 blankets, 16 packs of baby wipes, ~360 toothbrushes, toothpastes, deodorants, lotions, hand sanitizers. (I'm sure that I'm even forgetting lots of stuff!) She also put together kids' bags to hand out with coloring books, markers, bubbles & stuffed animals. The photo below is just a small bit of what we were able to collect and deliver. The trailer we pulled was completely packed with supplies!!!
|Just a small sampling of what we collected|
|Trees with a 10 foot base were completely uprooted.|
|Our first stop was at a hotel to meet and help the sister of our dear friend. Meet Marty (pictured with my husband and kids=). Marty and her 2 sons lost their home from the tornado (see photo below). When news of the upcoming tornado, Marty and her sons rushed to the bathroom, hid in the tub & covered themselves with a mattress. It is a miracle no one was hurt. Marty & her sons are in the process of recovering what is left in their home, but have very little in good condition to keep. They were able to stay at Life Church for a few nights until their home insurance paid for a hotel. They have one month in the hotel before they need to find a new home. Their cars were totaled and with only liability insurance, they will not be funded for a replacement car. Marty's niece (a good friend of mine) is raising money for her to rebuild their lives. If you would like to contribute, follow the link. =) http://disaster-relief.fundly.com/donations-to-survivors-of-oklahoma-tornado-13|
|What is left of Marty's home.|
|I saw this and had to take a photo....oh, the irony.|
|A community playground nearby.|
|People can have a sense of humor during crisis....they laugh so they don't cry.|
|We spoke to the man that owned this "house" and we were able to give him the last package of underwear that we had left in our trailer. And man, was he grateful.|
|It was hard to understand how one house could be standing unharmed (missing a few shingles) while the house next door was completely demolished, along with the rest of the neighborhood. We saw this a lot throughout the neighborhoods. Crazy.|
|When we stopped at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an empty semi truck was parked in the parking lot and had just delivered a full trailer of work supplies.....chainsaws, wheel barrows, gloves, rakes, shovels, water, hygiene kits, work shirts generators, sleeping cots, propane tanks, etc, etc. Later that weekend, volunteers were able to do some amazing work with those supplies. Follow this link for more details. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-in-pictures-oklahoma-tornado-cleanup|
|On our drive out of Moore, we followed this rainbow. The tornado victims have a long road of building ahead of them, but here's some hope for the people of Oklahoma.|
At the end of our trip, we still had some clothes and some supplies left. We stopped at a hotel and left toiletries, coloring books, markers & bubbles in the front lobby. Many parents didn't take their kids back to the houses and we had no other way to contact them. The lady at the front desk told me there were at least 20 children in the hotel who had lost their homes - and I'm sure they were thrilled to receive those toys. We left the remaining clothes with some friends in Moore. Those clothes have been organized and set aside for a few specific families who lost their homes....one single mother with 8 children and another family with 4 children.
At first, I was overwhelmed at the thought of bringing our 3 year old twin boys and our 1 year old boy to Oklahoma with us. But, as we gathered donations, and saw the excitement from the twins, there was no way we could leave them. This was an experience that they will never forget and a lesson that I could never teach from a book. It was a harsh reality for them to see these homes and talk to the kids who lost everything; but it was also heart-softening for them. Jason and I watched as Arlo & Josiah gave hugs to the kids and were so excited to give the children toys. My children learned, first hand, sympathy and compassion for others.
Thank you to all who gave. Your donations were gratefully received. Please continue praying for Moore.