Alumni Lend Helping Hands, Listening Ears to Oklahoma
WILMORE, Ky. — As residents of central Oklahoma continue to pick up the pieces of their communities in the aftermath of this week’s violent weather, Asbury University graduates have come alongside them to offer help and hope.
Greg Martin ’01, founder of a nonprofit organization called Disaster Relief At Work (DRAW), left his base in Michigan Thursday morning with 35 volunteers (including two Asbury students) and a truckload of buckets. The five-gallon buckets are actually kits containing different items — tarps, cleaning supplies, soap and toothpaste, for example — for households to use while salvaging their belongings. After picking up additional volunteers along the way, the DRAW volunteers anticipate spending the weekend in Oklahoma to assist with debris removal wherever possible.
Majors Steve and Wendy Morris, 1987 Asbury graduates and parents of a current student, are based in Oklahoma City as divisional leaders of the Salvation Army. They are helping to coordinate a response effort that includes clean-up kits, hygiene kits, shower units and first-aid supplies in addition to spiritual and emotional counseling.
When the EF5 tornado hit on Monday afternoon, Steve was in Shawnee, Okla., a town about 40 miles due east of where the worst damage occurred. As the storm began to weaken, the Salvation Army mobilized personnel onsite within two hours of the tornado.
“Our role is to come alongside those who are doing the response and trying to save as many people as possible,” Steve said in an interview on CBC radio on Tuesday. “We keep them fed and hydrated so they don’t have to leave the site.”