By Allison Roberts
The devastation Oklahoma has suffered from during this year’s storm season has inspired the hearts of many across the country to help storm victims in any way possible. Still, people across the country have been finding creative ways to help out and donate.
The most widely publicized methods have been various concerts scheduled in May, June and July, from which the proceeds go to charities to help rebuild from the rubble.
Following in the footsteps of Blake Shelton, whose May 29 telethon “Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert” raised more than $6 million in relief funds, Toby Keith and Garth Brooks plan a concert for July 6 in Norman. ABClocal.go.com reported that other artists scheduled to perform include Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson and Ronnie Dunn.
Many of the country music stars who have been doing their part to raise money for the efforts are Oklahoma natives, including Shelton and Reba McIntire, who also participated in Healing in the Heartland, Keith and Brooks.
June 21, tickets for Keith and Brooks’ “Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert” will go on sale for $25 each. Proceeds from both aforementioned concerts will go to the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s May Tornadoes Relief Fund.
For those who want to help without attending or sponsoring a benefit concert, there are still many options, including more hands-on volunteering.
The Southeastern BCM, for example, took two teams of student volunteers to Shawnee, Oklah. in order to assist in the clean up process after an F-4 tornado plowed through the area on its way to Moore, according to BCM director Colby Corsaut.
Much of the national media’s attention has been on Moore and Oklahoma City after the string of tornados, but what sent the BCM teams to Shawnee was a series of phone calls.
“We were getting all these calls saying that nobody’s going to Shawnee,” Corsaut said. “So we’re like, ‘Well, we’ll stop there, and if we run out of work here, we’ll go on to Moore.”
“Well, we never ran out of work,” Corsaut said.
He said that in a matter of a day or two, he, Kaci Dills and Wesley Burke organized the first trip, which Corsaut said sent about 20 to 25 people.
The trip consisted primarily of cleanup efforts, Corsaut said, but the BCM also coordinated the delivery of supplies donated from many sources in Texas and Texarkana. He said a collection of churches in Texarkana even donated a semitruck full of needed supplies, which the BCM delivered from Durant to Shawnee.
In describing the experience of the first trip, which Corsaut led, he said they worked from “dawn until we didn’t have enough sunlight.”
“We’re just yanking trees out of people’s houses, yards and cars, taking trash and piling it, praying with people and talking to everyone from little old ladies to young guys and college students our age,” he said.
For those who would prefer a simple way to help the tornado victims, making donations to charities with a high donation percentage that goes directly to the cause is a good option.
One of the most well-publicized charities through the recovery process has been United Way. At https://give.liveunited.org/page/contribute/donate-to-may-oklahoma-tornado-relief, anyone with an American Express, MasterCard or Visa credit card can donate.
Through the home page’s “Give” link, a breakdown of where money donated goes can be found here: https://give.liveunited.org/page/contribute/support-us.