Local aid groups head to Moore, OK, to provide help and support - KCTV5

Local aid groups head to Moore, OK, to provide help and support

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In the Kansas City metro, relief groups and volunteers are responding to help after the devastating tornado struck Moore, OK, Monday.

Just 12 hours ago, Salvation Army volunteer John Miller and Maj. Michele Heaver learned they were heading to Oklahoma.

"I will be thinking about how I can best help people and just be available for people. I have no idea what I'm going to encounter or what I'm going to see," Heaver said.

They have seen a lot of pain over the years having volunteered to help in Greensburg, KS, Joplin, MO, and two trips to New Jersey.

"The last one I was involved with was Katrina," Heaver said.

But on this trip, the two aren't taking supplies to pass out - only a Bible. They have been assigned to provide victims of the Oklahoma tornado spiritual and emotional support.

"By in large be a good listener. People have a need to express themselves," Miller said.

"A lot is happening internally for those who have lost homes, lost family members, everything they own is gone. So they will have to begin anew," said Heaver, who added that officers like herself with the Salvation Army are ordained ministers.

Heaver knows the victims have wounds on the inside that need mending and, for some, the power of prayer helps.

"When I go through the darkest valley I fear no danger. You are with me. Your rod and your staff comforts me," she said as she read out loud before they left Tuesday morning.

For others, just knowing someone drove all the way there to show them how much they care is comfort enough.

"They may not be ready for a lot of words of comfort. They may just need a shoulder to cry on at this point," Heaver said.

"If it's just being a good friend, we can do that," Miller said.

Heaver said she has her Bible with her to provide words of comfort not just to the families devastated by the twister, but also to provide words of encouragement for the rescue workers who are dealing with a very stressful situation.

"When you see the devastation, it impacts you tremendously and so we offer spiritual care for those (like) firefighters, rescue workers. They will be tired and need help as well," she said.

"The shock is huge. It takes time and, in a lot of cases, you won't meditate on it totally ever. Everyone will be impacted - those hit directly and those there to help," Miller said.

The duo should arrive in Oklahoma City, OK, about 5 p.m. to get instructions about what neighborhood they will be assigned to.

A lot of people are wondering how they can help the tornado victims. The Salvation Army said making a donation is the big thing people can do.

People can go to their website, Salvationarmyusa.org or text the word STORM to 80888 to make an automatic $10 donation that will show up on their next cell phone bill. People can also call 1-800-SALARMY to make a monetary donation.

Every $10 donation covers the cost of feeding one survivor per day.

They said the cash donations will be used once disaster workers determine exactly what's needed in Oklahoma. Then those items will be purchased in the area to pump money back into their local economy as well as save on the cost of having to transport any items.

Operation BBQ Relief is known for going to natural disasters and providing free, delicious barbecue to everyone. They left for Moore, OK, Tuesday morning.

They are setting up at First Baptist Church, located at 301 NE 27th St. in Moore.

Click here for Operation BBQ's Facebook page to follow them as they make their way to Oklahoma to help.

Just being able to brush your teeth becomes a challenge after a community loses everything in a tornado. That's why some local Walmarts in the Kansas City metro will be setting up containers so that people can donate items that will be used to make care kits. The kits will contain what seem like simple things - shampoo, washcloths, a toothbrush, etc.

The effort is being organized by Heart to Heart International.

The organization has already sent a mobile medical unit to Oklahoma that will be staffed with doctors and nurses to provide care. But they said the basis for good health is good hygiene so they want to send thousands of care kits and are asking for the public's help.

"You feel so helpless and you want to help and do something. A lot of us can't go down there and so (they want to) do something. Of course donating is easy, but sometimes (people) want something a little more tangible and so this is great thing you can do," said Krystal Barr with Heart to Heart International.

Go to hearttoheart.org for instructions on how to make the care kits, what to put in them and where to drop them off.

Also, on Friday the Walmart at 135th and Alden streets in Olathe, KS, as well as the Walmart at 103rd Street and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, KS, will set up containers where people can just drop off some of the products needed and volunteers will put the care kits together.

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