We had made contact with the main church involved with the relief efforts and got "solid" instructions from a gal there. So we thought we would just pull into DODGE, unload the donations we had and START PAINTING with at least the kiddos hanging out. WRONG!!! We got to the church only to be told that we had to leave because The President Of The United States was due to arrive to speak. So basically, his whole speech shut down an ENTIRE section of the relief effort for half the day. STRIKE 1
The folks at said church advised us to drive down to a high school around the corner. As we rounded the corner we soon realized we had entered" the zone." Debris Field like I can not even describe to you. We pulled into the High School and no one was there. LOL. STRIKE 2
|This used to be a gas station. I did not even know what it was until Kevin said," There is one gas pump left in the debris."|
|Then I noticed the sign for said gas station|
|You can see the hospital that was destroyed. We actually got to talk to a gal who was in the hospital when the tornado hit. She lost her car in the storm.|
|I can not believe all the metal just twisted like it was aluminum foil.|
|This gas station just blew my mind. You KNOW there were people working here when the storm hit.|
|This was some sort of an office building. You can see the pictures still hanging on the wall...the wall left standing anyway.|
|This was a neighborhood not in the direct path, but had everyone's debris blown into their yards and on their houses. The mud stuck to the siding was something.|
|Grass on the roof was a common thing to see.|
|This truck still drives..but it has seen some bad things.|
Not wanting to give up, we drove across the street to see if the make shift relief tent there needed any help. They told us they were set up for infants and very young children and that they did not need any help. STRIKE 3
Then we saw a Beacon of light across the parking lot... GOODWILL. I have never been so excited to see that sign in my entire life. We pulled in and backed the trailer right up to the front door... and WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER they were more than happy to take all of our donations. We asked the gentleman where we could go to volunteer and he directed us to yet another High School where the Red Cross was set up. YIPPEE!!! We were finally making some progress. Sooo, we round yet another corner and drove into complete destruction. It was like stepping into another world except is was organized. We passed Southgate Baptist Church on our way to the Red Cross Hub. It occurred to me that they were in the Tornado path, debris everywhere, yet the building looked to be okay.
|They had set up this tent to have services outside the Sunday we were there.|
Once getting to the Red Cross we had to go through 6 gatekeepers before they looked at my website and got super excited about what we were proposing to do. They told us that they would call us on Monday to have me get started. Sooooo we decided to go back to Southgate and just not take no for an answer. BOY DID WE GET BLESSED!!!!! THEY SAID YES!!! and off to work we went. My family split up into four areas. I seriously did not know where my kids were most of the time we were there because they were working in different areas from me. Chase can climb like a spider monkey so he took the unloading the semis and trailers job. Caitlin set up camp organizing toys, Kev was a jack of all trades and a runner and just kept the pace up for all of us and I took the Central Headquarters for getting every donated item to the floor. We first got the grand tour of the Gymnasium that had been turned into a relief grocery store. All items unloaded from the trucks and trailers coming in were sent back to a 10x 16 Sunday School room and stacked to the ceiling. When the truck was empty, it was my job and the job of three others to quickly unpack box by box and send runners out to stock the shelves with all the supplies. We moved thousands of pounds of freight and worked until midnight the first night we were there.
|Folks who were there to serve like we were at Southgate Baptist Church|
|This is the gymnasium we turned into a grocery store.|
|this is the line we made when we had to unload a semi truck.|
|Daddy, breaking down boxes|
|Cailtin was one of my runners and she was in charge of the toys as well.|
|This row had shampoo, body wash , soaps, razors, etc.|
|These folks lost their home|
Day two...the Red Cross was going to call us and let us know what location they wanted us at...ya, that call never happened and I was thankful. I did not want to leave Southgate Baptist Church. In fact, if we lived there, I would be there everyday that I did not have to work helping in anyway I could. It was the most amazing experience of my life and the most memorable trip I have ever taken.
|Folks camping there next to the building.|
I expected to go down there, register with the Red Cross, take a few pics of the damage, and then offer some paint therapy to those in shelters. What I expected and what I got were two entirely different things. What I expected was to see chaos, and what I saw was the true heart of this country. What I expected to see was disorder and people not knowing what end was up, but what I saw was volunteers from all over our country coming together to do whatever it took to get this massive job done. What I expected to see was crying and disbelief for the tragedy that had happened....what I saw was smiles and laughter and an eagerness to fix any problem that any of the victims had. What I expected to see was our government all over the place down there. What I saw was Tyson Chicken ON SITE with 6 or eight semi trucks Feeding EVERYONE HOT freshly made sandwiches all day and all night for free.
|Tyson chicken STEPPED WAAAY UP to help with relief efforts.|
What I saw was the New York Fire Department
|Mercy Chefs cooked nearly round the clock as well and man was it good food!!!|
|These are the trailers brought in by an oil company for folks to live in while relief effort were going on|
|Kevin and the Pastor of the church saying goodbye.|
What I expected to do was paint for the Red Cross with at least the children and then come home with a fuzzy feeling.....what I did was volunteer at the Southgate Baptist Church moving thousands of pounds of freight and in the process made some life long friends and met God face to face.
|With heavy hearts we headed to the truck to leave for home.|
OHHHH... as for the donated art supplies. I will fill the canvases with love and color and we will sell them to raise money to send to Southgate Baptist Church. I would like to raise enough money to buy some cars for folks who did not have full coverage insurance on their cars.
One more thing....the Liberty Chamber Of Commerce is teaming up with me to put on a fundraiser for Moore Oklahoma. Money is what they need now. We will have details of the event shortly so stay tuned for that.