May 22, 2013

In the Face of Disaster

The horrific thing about this tornado is that it was basically a repeat of the
 tornado that passed through the samearea 14 years ago on May 3, 1999.
The ’99 tornado demolished much of the city, just like it did yesterday…
only they are saying yesterday’s tornado was worse.
 - Moore Oklahoma Tornado Monday May 20, 2013.

If you have been following our blog for long, many of you know various things about my family and I. You know that I am married, have been blessed with two little boys, enjoy saving money and several other small details that I’ve scattered here and there within the blog posts that I’ve written in the past. However, one thing that I have never shared with you is where I’m from.

Believe it or not, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I know a lot of our customers haven’t ever been to Oklahoma before and honestly, probably have no desire to come to visit. If I’m being honest, when I was growing up, moving out of Oklahoma was one of my top priorities. Not because the state isn’t a great place to live or the people are rude, but because as a young kid, I felt like Oklahoma was boring and there was absolutely nothing interesting about the state.
It’s funny how you don’t appreciate things until you “grow up.” Oklahoma may not have all of the attractions that other states boast of, but it does have a lot to offer. The state is full of people who genuinely care about their neighbors like they’re family and treat strangers like friends. In fact, a few families that I know who were transplanted in Oklahoma from the East coast admitted to me how hard it was to get used to shopping at the grocery stores because everyone waves and says hello when you walk in (the cashiers) and it’s impossible to make it through the store without someone starting a conversation. Apparently this is out of the ordinary for people on the East coast? It’s all I’ve ever known… And, about not having anything to do…there are plenty of things to do, you just have to know where to find them. Now, that I’m 30 I can say that I’ve grown to love my home state of Oklahoma.
With all of that said, yesterday I sat in shock as I watched the news coverage regarding the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. Tornados are definitely something that I know a little bit about. I can’t tell you the number of times my parents and I spent an evening in the storm shelter praying that the nearby tornados would pass without hitting our house. However, I’ve never experienced anything like the poor people of Moore did yesterday. And, the horrific thing about this tornado is that it was basically a repeat of the tornado that passed through the same area 14 years ago on May 3, 1999. The ’99 tornado demolished much of the city, just like it did yesterday…only they are saying yesterday’s tornado was worse.
My heart literally breaks for those people. So many of them lost their homes, but many others lost family members – children, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, etc. I know that I’m not the only one out there who feels like they need to do something to help those poor people. It doesn’t matter if you live in Oklahoma or have never been to the state before…there are things you can do to help. Here are a few ideas.
1.      Donate items. Many communities, all over the nation, are organizing donation drops where people can bring non-perishables, toiletries, diapers and clothing to be sent to those affected by the tornado in Moore. It doesn’t take much to help out as most of us have clothes we have outgrown or don’t wear anymore. If you just cleaned out your closet, then go to the store and buy a case of water…every little bit helps. For those of us with kids, donating items like this shows them what it means to “help thy neighbor” in times of need.

2.      Give blood. Tragedies like this quickly drain the local blood banks of the blood they have stored. If you are able to give blood, then I encourage you to go to your local blood bank and give a pint today. You can specify that you want it to go to the people in Moore, Oklahoma and they will see that it helps the victims in need.

3.      Go shopping. Sounds kind of dumb, but a lot of places have already pledged to give a percentage of their sales to the Oklahoma Red Cross. This includes online retailers too! All it takes is a little research and you will be able to find the stores donating money from their sales to Oklahoma…in fact, Twitter is abuzz with all kinds of offers today! You can easily use these promotions to help families in need while getting a jump start on your Christmas shopping.
While no one ever wants to see tragedies like this happen, they do happen and one of the cool things that comes out of them is witnessing the amazing people who work together and reach out to those in need. Whether we are talking about a hurricane, tornado, wildfire, tsunami, earthquake or some other horrible natural disaster – it’s the love and compassion of those who reach out to the victims that gets makes the search, rescue, recovery and rebuilding a success.
Therefore, I encourage you to ask yourself what you can do to help when disaster strikes…no matter where it is. Why not use these tragedies as a way to teach your kids what it means to be compassionate and help those in need? Like I said before, all it takes is something simple like donating a case of water to help.