Special delivery to Okla.
Box after overflowing box, thousands of locally collected donations rolled into the large warehouse at Skuttle Indoor Air Quality Products in Marietta Tuesday morning. Suspending its typical workday, the company became ground zero for an army of volunteers who sorted, packed, and loaded a tractor trailer truck with donations collected over the past week for victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.
“Those people lost everything, and they need our help,” said Mike Ward, Skuttle plant manager, who was helping unload pallets piled with bags of donations.
Ward and several other Skuttle employees were among the over three dozen volunteers helping process a week’s worth of donations which were collected at over 20 area churches and businesses.
The donation drive started May 21, the day after a devastating tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., killing 24 people and destroyed over 12,000 homes.
Hearing about the destruction, Rodney Lord, pastor of Valley Harvest Church in Reno, called Nathan Isaacs, a long-time friend and the pastor of Grace Community Church an hour outside Moore, to see what was needed.
The answer was everything from clothes and food to toiletries and tents to toys to help the children keep their mind off the damage, said Glen Newman, with the Marietta OH 9-12 Project.
Marietta polymers plant Solvay donated 48 large Gaylord boxes to fill with supplies. The boxes will fill more than three-quarters of the tractor trailer, but what is especially nice about the boxes is that they serve a double purpose, said Newman.
“Think about if you’re a family out there who has lost everything, and you’re sifting through the rubble and find a photo or some memento. They don’t even have any place to store what little they have,” said Newman, adding that the emptied boxes will be given to families in need of storage.
With knees blackened from the concrete warehouse floor, 9-year-old Ashton Binegar taped up a box of baby supplies she had helped back.
“I like doing this because you’re helping people who don’t have anything left,” she said.
Showing up and seeing all the other volunteers was motivating, said Stanleyville resident Tim Murphy, 16, a member of the Evergreen Bible Church.
“After I saw what was going on here I was really excited to help,” said Murphy, who lifting toiletries to the very top of the growing stack of boxes in the trailer.
Parkersburg resident Lori Wells, 49, manned one of the donation collection trucks in Parkersburg and noted that the people dropping off supplies were grateful to have a way to help.
“These people would say, ‘We’re so glad you’re doing this.’ People were just looking for someone to start the initiative,” she said.
The tractor trailer, donated by Marietta Transport Company, was completely full by Tuesday afternoon, said Lord.
“It worked out perfectly. We maybe could have fit a few small boxes, but it worked out great,” he said.
Marietta Transport Company is also supplying a driver and covering the cost of delivering the supplies to Oklahoma. The driver was scheduled to take off Tuesday evening, said Lord.
While public support has been overwhelming, those in Moore and surrounding areas will not recover overnight, noted Newman. The coalition who helped gather supplies will likely re-evaluate what is needed in Oklahoma and start another donation drive in a week or two.
In the meantime, people are still able to contribute monetarily by donating to the American Red Cross online at www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Grace Community Church is also collecting monetary donations for tornado victims through PayPal. More information can be found at www.movfriends.com, a website created to help organize the local relief effort.