OK volunteer: We’re like Walmart but free
MOORE, Okla. -- Amid the devastation of Moore, Okla, one thing this city still has in abundance is the spirit of volunteerism.
Everywhere we looked today there were people ready to step in and help – most of them doing so without being asked.
The first people we ran into this morning were Robin and Mark Wood from Community Church in Lawton, Okla. Robin said they didn’t know anyone in Moore or Oklahoma City, but felt a strong desire to come down and help. They got to work, bringing 25 cases of bottled water, a tent and a generator to set up shop near Plaza Towers Elementary School, where several young lives were lost.
It looks like a mini-mart, with countless cases of water, a baby pool filled with ice and cold drinks, canned goods, toiletries, bagged meals, clothes, blankets, you name it.
“We’re like Walmart but free,” Wood says.
As passersby see the station, they continue to drop off more supplies. The single-tent operation is several tents long and includes a charging station where locals can recharge cell phones and electronic items.
Volunteers from Lawton, Okla. hand out supplies to those affected by the storm. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)
“We’ll be here s long as we’re needed,” Wood says.
Angie’s List member Valerie Kelley recruited her sons to help clear debris from her home, and while they worked, a group of about seven volunteers invited themselves into the yard and declared they would help take down the dilapidated shed.
Within a few minutes, ropes were being tied and pulled as if in a game of tug-of-war. The shed put up a good fight, as the ropes were dropped and chainsaws brought in.
While the volunteers worked, countless food trucks drove by, offering hot meals and snacks. People walked down the street wheeling coolers, offering ice cold drinks to the neighborhood, which is still without power.
Norman, Okla. resident Kay Johnson says that’s the “Oklahoma standard,” where people don’t ask – they just do.
Johnson, who is also an Angie’s List member, is currently fostering a cat for her friend Joanne, who survived the storm by huddling in the bathtub with her husband, cat and dog.
A local animal activist, Johnson runs out multiple times a day for supplies needed at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, where all the displaced animals are being taken care of by the on-site veterinarian, Dr. Kristi Scroggins.
Many of the dogs there are clean, well groomed and appear healthy, but about 60 are yet to be reunited with their families.
But until those reunions take place, the fairgrounds will remain staffed with round-the-clock volunteers who will give those animals the love and affection they desire.
“You just don’t run from – you run to,” Johnson says.