Our hearts were broken for the towns and communities in Oklahoma as they were so devastated by the tornadoes this week. We live so far away and wish we could just hop on over there and help out. But we practically are not able to help in this way.
But, that doesn’t mean that miles prevent us from helping out!
We asked you on our Facebook page for ideas that you know of to help the communities in Moore and the surrounding small towns. We appreciate your responses and have done our best here to share those ideas and more; if you have more, please leave a comment on this post!
Here’s a list of ways we can help, even if we are not close by:
- Provide money and/or supplies to church denominations – In nearly every, if not all, natural disasters that I have witnessed in my life, there are ALWAYS churches going in with food, supplies and help physically and spiritually. Most of these churches are connected to a nationwide (or worldwide) denomination. By giving to the denomination and designating those funds/supplies for the needs in the Midwest is one fabulous way to give. If you visit the main website of any Christian denomination, you will probably find information on how you can help. By helping through churches, you are helping with not only the physical needs, but spiritual too. Churches are the original source of how to help and reach out to others.
- Give to The Salvation Army – Thanks to one of our readers, Wendy, she provided this information: “please text “storm” to 80888 to donate $10 via cell phone to The Salvation Army. Goes on your phone bill. According to my friends in Moore, OK and Joplin, Missouri, The Salvation Army is the organization that actually helped the most out of all of the “charities” in past tornadoes.” We have confirmed this on The Salvation Army blog:
- Donate to national organizations such as Red Cross – You can donate online or call at 1-800-RED-CROSS. You can even text REDCROSS to 90999. Please note, when making your donation, you have to specify that you want this to go to the tornado victims or it will not! If you text, your funds will be distributed how the organization sees fit and may not go to the tornado victims. So please call or donate online instead to make sure!
- Donate to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma – We found some interesting information posted by this organization (we say interesting because they are saying the clothing and supplies are somewhat burdensome and discouraged – I guess something to think about!):
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, in partnership with Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, is asking that the public support all rescue, recovery and disaster relief efforts with donations of cash to your favorite responding charity. Donations of items such as clothing and supplies are strongly discouraged. Financial donations will allow disaster relief agencies to purchase whatever items are deemed necessary without resulting in the additional burden of securing warehouse space and volunteers to work donated product. To make a tax deductible donation to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, go to www.regionalfoodbank.org or call 604-7111 or text FOOD to 32333 to give $10 to relief efforts.
- Donate to the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief – We’ve had a lot of suggestions from our readers on this great way to donate. Here’s the information we found: “With Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams already responding to severe weather from Sunday in several locations, including Shawnee, Edmond and Little Axe, Oklahoma Baptists are assisting with recovery efforts from the tornado that hit Moore. Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation to the BGCO’s Disaster Relief ministry, by visiting www.bgco.org/donate or calling 942-3800. All money go toward disaster relief and helping victims. For photos, information and updates, visit the Oklahoma Baptists’ blog at www.okdisasterhelp.com.” Here’s a couple more links to donate through for this purpose: www.kybaptist.org/dr, and www.namb.net
- You can donate your Pampers Gifts to Grow Points – Here’s the Facebook status we spotted:
And then they updated yesterday to say that they will match your donation of your Gifts to Grow points – in the end, this is a free way for you to donate and your donations will be doubled.
- Another “free” way to donate is to donate your Swag Bucks – Here’s some information from the Swag Bucks blog:
“Simply donating 5 Swag Bucks can help. And if we all pitch in, these 5SB donations will certainly add up. Let’s work together to improve the hundreds of lives that were affected by this tragedy. Every day for the next week, donate 5 Swag Bucks to the Tornado Relief Fund. That’s only 35 Swag Bucks in total. If everyone donates 35 Swag Bucks, we can build up a million SB donation! Although this is not mandatory, I certainly encourage all Swaggernauts to participate.”
*If you do not know what Swag Bucks are, read up on it HERE.
- PRAY – If you do nothing else, this is so important. There are reasons why things happen, we don’t know those reasons, but God works and moves in those circumstances and praying for the communities, churches, families and individuals within those affected areas. There can be a lot of good come out of bad situations. Prayer to the Creator and Sustainer is what we need to be doing.
Finally, Here’s a couple of letters that were posted by pastors in the area and thanks to reader Gaq for posting these:
“Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has been in continuous contact with response to Oklahoma. At this time, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief units and volunteers are not needed in the response; as Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is doing tremendous ministry on the ground and has adequate volunteers at this time. I would urge you to continue to monitor your emails and our website, as this could change and KY Baptists may be needed as the response to Oklahoma continues.
Let me share a good word at this point; I would urge you as a Believer to wait for the right time to volunteer. Television footage and photos of the tragedy move our hearts and compel us to want to “go now”. It is right as Believers in Christ to be moved to respond and to help these in need. Yet, let me warn you of what I see again and again in disasters, in the first few critical days of a disaster response, large numbers of untrained and unsolicited volunteers showing up on the scene can actually slow down responders and siphon off resources, energy, and attention from the response …and most critically from those who need our help. Disaster needs will not end in a few days when the TV crews move on to other stories. Often the time, volunteers can be the most help is in the long term recovery and rebuilding phase of disaster response. For example, Kentucky Baptist Disaster relief is continuing to help and connect teams for Hurricane Sandy Rebuild efforts in New York City. This is often the best time for mission teams to come alongside with skills and resources by partnering with local churches to help and to continue to bring the healing hope of Christ to communities devastated by disasters. At the present, I would continue to urge you as Kentucky Baptists, the best way to assist our neighbors in Oklahoma are to:
· Pray. Pray for the healing hand of God, for His grace to wash over those affected, and for those who are on the ground serving at the request of the response.
· Give. Your monetary donations are critical and do make a difference in people’s lives. These gifts allow the disaster response to meet specific needs in the best ways, and to get critical help to those reeling from this tragedy.
Also a letter from a pastor on an Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) church in the area:
Thanks everyone for your inquiries. In the Lord’s providence the tornado passed about five miles from the closest of our families. All of the members and regular attenders of our congregation are fine. Our internet was down until late last night so I am slow getting a response out to many of you, but that was the worst of the direct impact to us in Norman. My family did get to spend an exciting two hours in our storm shelter yesterday learning together to trust the Lord’s goodness.
We’ve all been going through our list of friends and acquaintances to make sure everyone is ok and who we can help. Our hearts have been grieved as I know yours have to see the death and destruction in Moore, and we want to do what we can to share the love of Christ with the community during this time.
We’ve already identified several families we know who have lost homes, including one fellow area pastor, Rev. Larry Horton of New Covenant Bible Church in OKC. For those who have asked if they can help, I will send an update in the next day or two once we have identified some specific needs we can address. For those who have asked about sending money for diaconal assistance, you can mail funds to our church address:
310 N. Findlay Avenue
Norman, OK 73071
I am quite confident we will have plenty of opportunities to put whatever funds people would like to send to good use over the coming weeks and months. There are overwhelming opportunities to minister to our neighbors.
Please be in prayer today specifically for the ongoing search and recovery efforts. And please pray for wisdom for us as we try to figure out how we can best serve the community. We are grateful that we serve the Lord who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and who will meet all our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Grace and Peace,
Please let us know if you or someone you know has any more updates, ideas on how to help and any additional comments you may have!