Rusty Maynard said his heart broke as he watched video footage of a mile-wide tornado ripping its way through Moore, Okla., May 20.
“I thought about the kids in the school who were taken away, the people in their homes, the horror of all that,” he said Wednesday.
The family and youth minister at Center Road Church of Christ said his congregation was still helping local families with flood recovery when it received word of the deadly Oklahoma tornado.
A group of church members gathered one night to talk about it.
“We sat here and said, ‘Oh my goodness. We’re so far away, but we can’t do nothing,’” Maynard said.
And it turns out their sister churches in the Moore area were reaching out for help. Their community needed donations and volunteers.
Center Road Church of Christ wanted to help with both.
Church members quickly began collecting donations and planning a mission trip to the storm-ravaged area.
They’re trying to fill a semi trailer with as many supplies as they can gather in the next week. They’re looking for cleaning supplies, new clothes, toiletries, gift cards, pillows and sleeping bags, plastic storage bins, baby items and gloves and safety glasses.
Maynard said the plastic storage bins are in high demand there right now. People who lost almost everything have nowhere to store the few items they could salvage, nothing to protect those items from rain or other inclement weather.
The minister said a group locally is collecting supplies for the two schools destroyed in the tornado. Organizers of the First Friday event in Kokomo invited the church to set its trailer up downtown and collect donations during the event this week.
“I have been really encouraged by that spirit,” he said.
He’s hopeful community members will step up and help Center Road Church of Christ fill the semi with supplies for victims and relief workers even as Kokomo recovers from its own disaster.
Soon the national media will move on to other stories, he said, but the people of Oklahoma will still be recovering. They will still be suffering, he said.
“That will go on for weeks if not years,” Maynard said. “This stuff happens amazingly slowly.”
The church has plans to deliver the supplies to the disaster area next week. By the end of the month, it plans to send a group there to do mission work.
Church members will help cook and serve meals to volunteers and victims. Maynard talked to someone who volunteered serving meals there recently. Nearly 4,000 people were served in one day.
Church members will also help set up temporary shelters and clean up debris.
“We’ll be going out to people’s houses, or what’s left of them, to help them sift through things. Give them a drink of cold water, a hamburger,” Maynard said. “We just want to do what we can.”
He said his mother went out to help with relief efforts following the Joplin, Mo. tornado two years ago. There was so much devastation.
“How can you not want to help with that?” Maynard wondered aloud.
“You go down and help as long as you can,” he said. “We believe in Jesus. That’s what he would do.”
Want to Help?
Center Road Church of Christ is filling a semi-tractor trailer with items for tornado victims in Oklahoma. The trailer will be set up on the courthouse square in Kokomo for the First Friday event from 6 to 9 p.m. Donations also can be dropped off at the church, the corner of Park and Center roads, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday through June 11. For more information, call 765-453-1448 ext. 4.
The following items can be immediately used by victims and relief workers:
• Work gloves
• Safety glasses
• Gift cards
• New packaged underwear (men, women and children’s)
• New bras (all sizes)
• Trash bags
• First aid
• Toiletries (shampoo, face wash, bar soap, deodorant, eye wash, etc.)
• Sleeping bags, pillows and blankets
• Paper goods
• Cleaning products
• Hand sanitizer
• Travel packs with toothbrush, toothpaste and other travel-sized toiletries
• Formula, bottles, diaper bags and baby items
• Feminine products
NOTE: No used clothing