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Madison-area volunteers report from Oklahoma

Published On: May 25 2013 06:49:28 PM CDT
Updated On: May 28 2013 11:25:16 AM CDT
Truck, filled with supplies, leaves Madison for Oklahoma
MADISON, Wis. -

25 volunteers from the Madison area are among the many working as part of the massive cleanup effort in the tornado-ravaged city of Moore, Okla.

They brought with them two semi-trucks of supplies, which they passed out throughout Sunday while also cleaning out debris from badly-damaged homes.

The CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County is part of the volunteer group and shared some comments on the group’s work and overall mission.

"We started our day by unloading two of the semi trucks that we brought down from Madison," reported Johnson.

Johnson said his team got right to work.

"And so what we decided to do was just walk through a neighborhood with our shovels and our rakes, and people started running out their front doors asking us to assist them," he continued.

People were typically surprised to learn where the Good Samaritans were from.

"When we tell folks that we're from Madison, Wisconsin, they are totally, totally surprised. They're like, 'You drove all the way from Madison, Wisconsin?'"

But, as Johnson explained, the distance his group had to travel was secondary to the importance of the mission. "The reality is, this could be Madison, Wisconsin," explained Johnson. "And I would hope that if something like this was to happen to us, that other communities would rally and come to our support."

And what did his group hope to accomplish while in Oklahoma?

"We're going to do our small part to help make a difference here in this town. They don't need teddy bears, they don't need clothes, they need Gatorade, they need trash bags, and they need volunteers," continued Johnson. "It's going to take these folks a long time to rebuild this community."

The volunteers from Madison will start driving back on Memorial Day.

For those who couldn’t make it to Moore, there are many ways to help.

Head to www.unitedwayokc.org for the local chapter of the United Way, where there is lots of information on how to give money to those in need.

And texting "Red Cross" to 90999 will automatically result in a $10 donation to relief efforts.

The four-day effort organized by the Boys and Girls Club and Metcalfe's resulted in 70,000 pounds of donated goods and $20,000 in donations for the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Less than an hour before hitting the road Saturday afternoon, donations for Oklahoma tornado survivors continued to trickle in.

Long receipts and bags of goods showed the generosity of the area.

They say that even though Oklahoma is far off, they find it easy to empathize and help.

"We have to take care of each other," said Kristine Nelson, a Wisconsin Dells resident who delivered $5,000 worth of goods with her friends and family.

"Me and my son were actually watching it on the news when the tornadoes hit and we were in tears, because, I mean, our town is small. 14 miles, that would wipe out our whole school district, is five schools, so it makes you think this could happen at home."

Twenty-five volunteers spent Saturday morning loading up the last of their supply.  Many said they can only imagine what the people of Moore, Okla., are going through.

Donations included basic essentials including water, diapers, paper towels, soap, and blankets.

"Community is not just here in Madison, but I feel like as a nation we are one community," said Stephanie Nash, a volunteer preparing for the 13-hour drive.

"Bucky loves Oklahoma," Nash added, while looking around at the supplies and items being donated.

Volunteers will help distribute items to survivors, work in a warehouse, remove debris, and anything else that may be asked of them.

"We're gonna do whatever they need us to do," said Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. "Working in a warehouse, we'll also be working in the community to remove debris. Whatever they tell us to do, we're going to be there to serve."

Volunteers will stay at the local Boys and Girls Club facility.

Johnson said he was proud of the outpouring of support.

Before the group drove off, they joined hands and said a prayer for themselves and for those in Moore.

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