More on the Oklahoma Tornados (Written With One Foot In My Tornado Closet…) and How We Can Help Our Friends/Family in OK

Severe WeatherThanks, Joanna, for posting about the importance of storm shelters. There are a lot of bomb shelters around town — one right next door to me — constructed during the atomic war threats we lived with during the 1960’s when I was a kid. They make great tornado shelters. We had regular bomb drills to cover our heads and get under our desks when I was a kid. Or we’d pile into the inner hallways, arms and head folded against the kid in front of us.

That is all I thought about yesterday when I heard about the children at Plaza Towers Elementary School.Plaza Towers Elementary

We have a lot of personal ties to Oklahoma. My daughter’s in-laws live in Edmund and OKC. She went to law school for a bit there, lived in Bricktown in downtown OKC. We made sure she saw the tornado shelter that was right across the street from her complex.

In Oklahoma, they take tornados very, very seriously.  It’s “Tornado Alley” there, too — Moore OK has been hit by five severe tornados now. I’m sure you have seen this touching video of the hearty woman who did what she has done for years whenever the tornado sirens sounded: sat on a stool in a “safe place” in her home.

Well, in yesterday’s EF5, no place was safe. Heartening, of course, that she found her little dog — I can totally relate. (Biscuits and water are in my tornado room.) But I am haunted by the thought of those parents who took their children to school in the morning only to have the school walls ripped away, blown apart, by Mother Nature.

Moore OK Medical Ctr

Moore OK Medical Ctr

Bernadette Schaeffler, Dallas Design District showroom owner extraordinaire, is furious — furious that we don’t have better storm shelters for children in schools.

“If we can build them at all, why can we not have them near schools?” she asked me.

Paige Winburn, who works for Bernadette, is leaving for Moore, Oklahoma this weekend to support her home state. Paige attended college near Moore and wants to reach out to help. She is collecting clothing and other items, but she was told by the Red Cross this morning that monetary donations are most helpful. That way money goes directly to victims to assist them to bu

y the basics on their own.

Bernadette started thinking about the devastation in Moore — THOUSANDS are homeless — and decided to take immediate action:

I immediately decided to support her by opening the showroom this Friday, May 24th from 4-7 p.m, ” said Bernadette. “This will be a fundraising event where you either can donate on your own or for any purchase made I contribute 10% of the sales price to the efforts to help the tornado victims in Oklahoma.”Oklahoma red

Katherine Campbell at Superior Abstract & Title is collecting clothes:

“Please bag them in small bags and label them…Example: Ladies size 8 or girls size 4 or boys size 6. **Additional information to follow on supplies needed. Drop off during week, 9am to 5pm @ Superior Abstract & Title – 8240 Preston Road, Suite 250, Plano, TX 214-705-1310.”

This is just the beginning. The good thing about us is we love to help our fellow human beings when tragedy strikes, and we do! My friend Barbara Workman, an Oklahoma native, has her Facebook page loaded with ways to help.

Also, I wonder if we should hold off on buying bottled water in Dallas stores — they may need it in Moore.

Here are the many other wonderful organizations seeking to help our friends and family in Oklahoma:

American Red Cross
The Red Cross has shelters in various communities. You can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund here, and the organization also suggests giving blood at your local hospital or blood bank. Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, gave a one million Red Cross pledge via his family foundation.

Missing Relatives: check the Red Cross Safe & Well’s site.

$10 donation can be sent to the Disaster Relief fund via text message, you can do so by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.

Phone: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095.

OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund
The state of Oklahoma, in coordinating with the United Way of Central Oklahoma,  established the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund for the needs of victims of the May 20 tornado in Moore and the May 19 tornado near Shawnee.

Donations for can be made online at UnitedWayOKC.org.

Phone: 1-405-236-8441.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

Think of the basics these people need. OBDR says donations will “go straight to help those in need providing tree removal services, laundry services and meals to victims of disasters.”

It is requesting monetary donations, not clothing. For more information, and to donate, visit Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief’s website.

Salvation Army

God bless the Salvation Army, always organizing disaster response units to serve hard-hit areas. This time, it’s central Oklahoma, including Moore, where it is sending mobile kitchens that can serve meals to 2,500 people a day, and to South Oklahoma City.

I just love the SA! Supporters can donate online via the organization’s website, SalvationArmyUSA.org. You can also text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation via cellphone. If you want to send a check, the Salvation Army asks that you put the words “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK., 73157.

Phone:  1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

Feed the Children

Feed the Children has set up five locations in Oklahoma City to accept donations to help victims of the Moore tornado. Talk about basics: the organization is accepting items including diapers, canned goods, non-perishable food, snack items, water and sports drinks.  Donate online, or make a $10 donation by texting the word DISASTER to 80888.

Phone:  1-800-627-4556

United Way of Central Oklahoma
A disaster relief fund is being activated as of May 21 so that individuals can specifically donated to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts, the organization says on its site.

“Financial contributions are the best way to help unless otherwise requested.” Donations can be made online at

United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open.  Donations may be made online here. Checks, with a notation of “May Tornado Relief” can also be sent to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK , 73101.

Feeding America
Through its network of more than 200 food banks, Feeding America, whose mission is to “feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks,” says it will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to communities in need, in Oklahoma, and will also “set up additional emergency food and supply distribution sites as they are needed.” You can donate onlinehere.

Phone: 1-800-910-5524.

Operation USA 
The international relief group, based in Los Angeles, says it is “readying essential material aid — emergency, shelter and cleaning supplies” to help Oklahoma’s community health organizations and schools recover.

You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word AID to 50555. Checks should be sent to: Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone: 1-800-678-7255.

Convoy of Hope
The Missouri-based nonprofit organization has done work in other disasters, including the Haiti earthquake, with a mission of getting food and water to those after disaster strikes. Now it’s doing the same for Moore, Okla. You can donate online here. Convoy of Hope is also going the crowd-sourced route, using HopeMob, a site similar to Kickstarter but for raising money to help disaster victims and others in need, which charges no fees to the organizations that use it.

Phone: 1-800-988-0664

Direct Relief 
The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based, non-profit organization provides medical assistance and personal hygiene items to those hurt in disasters, as well as in other circumstances.

“So far we have heard from health center partners responding in Oklahoma and are preparing an emergency shipment to help support the efforts there.  Direct Relief has been receiving requests for emergency supplies, personal care and protection items — including hygiene supplies, infection control products, gloves, soap, shampoo, deodorant, sanitary napkins, diapers, wipes and formula,” said Kerri Murray, Direct Relief vice president, in an email.

To donate, visit DirectRelief.org.

Phone: 1-800-676-1638

AmeriCares
The Emergency Response team for AmeriCares is in Oklahoma, “coordinating deliveries of emergency aid and assessing the needs of survivors and health care organizations in the disaster area.”

Since 1982, the Connecticut-based nonprofit has delivered medicine, medical supplies and aid to those in need around the world and across the United States.

You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word LIVE to 25383. Checks or money orders can be mailed to: AmeriCares, 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT 06902.

Phone:  1-800-486-HELP (1-800-486-4357)

Operation Blessing International
Humanitarian organization Operation Blessing International, which last week coordinated more than 500 volunteers here in Granbury, Texas, is working with The Home Depot and dispatching a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks with tools and supplies and a team of construction foremen to Moore.

Late Monday, Operation Blessing International also “loaded and deployed two tractor-trailer truckloads of food and emergency relief supplies from its warehouse in Dallas, Texas, in partnership with the humanitarian organization, Mercury One,” said a Operation Blessing spokeswoman.

The Virginia Beach-based group’s online link for donations is here.

Phone:  1-800-730-2537

Samaritan’s Purse
The international Christian relief organization focuses on cleaning and repairing damaged homes and sent two disaster relief units from North Wilkesboro, N.C. to Oklahoma Tuesday. “The tractor-trailers are stocked with heavy-duty plastic, chainsaws, generators, and other tools and equipment. The units also will serve as command centers for the response,” Samaritan’s Purse says on its website. Of course, how many homes are left standing to clean and or repair? You can donate online here. You can also give a $10 donation by texting the word SP to 80888.

Phone:  1-800-528-1980

Jewish Federations of North America
The Jewish Federations of North America is working with the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma, which is coordinating efforts with a local food bank, Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross. The Jewish Federations of North America has established an Oklahoma City Tornado Relief fund. Donors can contribute online here.

Checks can also be sent to the JFNA national mailbox at: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, P.O. Box 148, New York, NY, 10268. Please indicate “JFNA Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund” on all checks or in the designation box online.

DonorsChoose.org
DonorsChoose.org is creating a special online fund to collect donations for the teachers and schools of Moore, Okla., to help respond and rebuild. Donors Choose will work with the teachers of Moore to assess what they need for their classrooms and allow them to identify the real-time solutions and supplies their community and their students need: everything from clothing for their students to first-aid kits.

To donate, visit www.donorschoose.org

How to know if you are helping or being scammed?

The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines about charity donations, including these tips:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events, like the tornadoes.
  • Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
  • Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting theNational Association of State Charity Officials.

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