Disasters are bigger than any one organization can handle alone, which is why community partnerships are so vital to the recovery effort. The American Red Cross relies on these partners to help provide vital services to people in need.
Partnering with the Southgate Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Red Cross opened an emergency aid station after the devastating tornado struck Moore, Okla. The aid station was staffed around the clock by compassionate volunteers who provided meals and supplies to area residents.
“It’s so inspiring to see everyone come together to help the people of this community,” said Michael Puryear, a Red Cross volunteer. “That’s why I love doing this.”
Puryear, a police officer and active disaster volunteer, made the trip from his home state of Tennessee to help in the tornado relief operation. No stranger to disasters, he knows it takes the support of organizations like the Red Cross and the Southgate Church to help these communities recover and rebuild.
“On disaster relief operations, I see how people really chip in to help,” said Puryear. “And this community has done that. The people of this church are truly amazing.”
Thirteen-year-old Duane Reese was determined to help unload every box of supplies he could off the Red Cross truck. He helped disaster workers deliver rakes, buckets, water and comfort kits to the church.
"Moore is my hometown, and I lived here a long time,” said Reese. “It's devastating to see what happened.”
Reese grew up in Moore but moved to a different town a few years ago. He felt compelled to leave school early and return to help his former neighbors. Reese and his mother traveled from their nearby town to the church in Moore to join the recovery effort.
“It feels a lot better being here helping than sitting at home,” added Reese.
Reese's mother, Tonya Cody, works in the Moore School District. While her son assisted with the heavy lifting outside, Cody helped sort clothes, food and other goods inside the church.
“I am so proud of Duane for wanting to help others,” said Cody.