There is really no easy way to start a column like this. How do we open a conversation about tragedy easily?
Some of you may know I am a transplanted Arkansan; born and raised in Oklahoma. I still consider Oklahoma my home. I probably always will.
The tornadoes that have devastated my “home” are nothing short of heart wrenching. Lives have been forever changed.
As I write this some families are celebrating the safe return of their loved ones, some are still waiting to know and all of us are grieving. Right now my home state is shattered, but we will be okay. We will always be okay. Thats just what Oklahoma does.
There is a fairly popular quote from Fred Rogers that is often highlighted in times like these. It reads: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”"
Most of us are already thinking about the basic needs that the residents of Oklahoma no longer have i.e. food, clothing, shelter, diapers etc. I would suggest we hold off on clothing drives or food drives for now. They’ll let us know when they are ready to accept things like that. There isn’t even a structure to house the donated items as of yet.
How do we help in the mean time? What do we need to do to be “the helpers”?
I would ask that you all consider donating blood. And, if you are able, find a reputable charity like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army and make a monetary donation. You can donate to the Salvation Army by texting STORM to 80888. Doing this will add a $10 charge to your cell phone bill, and give a $10 donation to them. You can also visit donate.salvationarmyusa.org to make a donation. If you would like to donate to the Red Cross you can do it the same way via text by sending REDCROSS to 90999 or by visiting redcross.org/ok/oklahoma-city. The United Way of Central Oklahoma also has a disaster relief fund set up and you can donate to it by visiting their website unitedwayokc.org.
If you’re not able to donate in any of the fore mentioned ways, could I ask you a favor? Could you give every Oklahoman a moment of your time and pray for them, all of them.
Governor Brad Henry once said “something called 'the ‘Oklahoma Standard' became known throughout the world. It means resilience in the face of adversity. It means a strength and compassion that will not be defeated.”
Resilience is woven deeply into the fabric of Oklahoma. Throw us an obstacle, and we grow stronger. My heart aches for Oklahoma. You’re in my daily thoughts and prayers.