Oklahomans Embrace Volunteer Work after Tornado

Doris Baker and Tiffany Stuhr

Red Cross volunteers Doris Baker (left) and Tiffany Stuhr (right) from Oklahoma help distribute supplies in the affected communities.

They are so grateful when they see us.

American Red Cross volunteers from Oklahoma are using their training to serve their neighbors in the wake of the tornado disaster.

To cope with this terrible tragedy, including the death of a friend’s child, Red Cross volunteer Debbie Spaeth has joined with other volunteers to canvass neighborhoods and deliver supplies to those in need.

“People can't get around,” she said. “Their cars are damaged, and roads are closed so bringing supplies and our services is a big help."

Not only is a scarcity of working cars restricting residents’ mobility, but broken wheelchairs and walkers are also keeping people at bay. “They are so grateful when they see us,” Spaeth said.

Red Cross volunteer Doris Baker also understands the power of helping others right now. When the tornado hit, she could not get in touch with her daughter who lives in Moore, Okla., the town which bore the brunt of the tornado’s destruction on Monday.

“I called the police and fire department, and we went over to her house where I began frantically searching through the debris,” she said. Little did Baker know that her daughter was safe and had rushed to Plaza Elementary School, where she helped pull children out of the rubble.

“I am just so grateful she is alive,” Baker said. “You can replace things but not people.”

Baker, who began volunteering with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, is now focused on helping her community members by delivering water, food and supplies and providing them with comfort.

More than 200 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in the Oklahoma City area working in shelters, serving food and staffing emergency aid stations, where residents can find safe refuge, food and snacks, emotional support, health care services and information about other recovery resources.

People interested in volunteering with the Red Cross should contact their local chapter for more information. Making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief is another way to support those affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises. Donations can be made by visiting the website, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.