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May 22, 2013

Church groups unite to help victims

CHICKASHA — Chickasha is all too familiar with the after effects of violent storms as the city sustained an EF-4 just two years ago. The recent tragedy that the city of Moore has undergone with an identical twister has brought back memories for much of the Grady County community, and served as an incentive to begin relief efforts.

“We know what it feels like to go through something like this,” David Boiles of the South Oaks Church of Christ. “There in such great need for help over there.”

Boiles has organized a food and item drive at his South Oaks Church of Christ, located on South Sixteenth Street in Chickasha. He spent the majority of Tuesday spreading flyers to the community about the charitable event.

One donator, Cody Stephenson of Alex, said he caught sight of one of the flyers while dining in Chickasha and decided to drop off children’s clothing.

“My wife got this together last night,” Stephenson said as he gestured toward a box. “There are little girls clothes, little boys clothes and shoes.”

Stephenson, father of a six-year-old and two-year-old, brought one of his children along for the ride. His donation was a family affair; he said both of his young children gave away a few personal items.

“They both threw some toys in there,” he said. “Our family is just trying to help out where we can. We know that community has lost so much.”

Members of the church are taking turns working shifts to collect donations throughout today and tomorrow.

Generosity is heavy in several other parts of Chickasha as well, as Grady County Memorial Hospital (GCMH) and Aspire Home Care are also participating Moore relief efforts.

Vice President of planning and marketing John Crump was responsible for organizing the donation drop-off spot for GCMH.

“We had several hospital employees call this morning asking what they could do to help,” Crump said, “so we invited them to drop off supplies in the lobby that we will be delivering to Moore later in the day or week. We’ve also invited people to drop off cash contributions, which will go to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.”

Crump said this devastation has hit particularly close to home, as there are a number of GCMH employees that live close to Moore.

“Fortunately the employees we have that live in that area were just outside the tornado damage zone so their houses were all spared and they were all OK,” Crump said. “But the response of the people of Oklahoma has always been one of great generosity for any disaster that’s happened so we will be collecting items all week, and hopefully we will have a trailer or truckload by the end of the week.”

By 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon baby food and diapers, cleaning supplies and water had been delivered to the hospital.

Holly Miller, organizer of the drive that is being conducted at Aspire Home Care throughout the week, said that it is important to remember every community that has been affected by the dangerous weather.

“We want to extend relief to Moore victims, as well as Shawnee and Carney victims,” Miller said. “And we are going to take donations indefinitely. There’s always a big need and a big rush as soon as disaster strikes — but two or three months from now, we know these people are still going to be in need.”

There are 13 Aspire Home Care offices throughout Southern Oklahoma, Miller said, but the Chickasha office is the closest one to Moore.

“As Oklahomans, we need to step it up and we will — it’s just in our spirit,” Miller said. “And it’s honor to be able to help these people.”

Numerous businesses, organizations and churches in the Chickasha area will be accepting donations throughout the week. To assist immediately in relief efforts, interested parties can visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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