When the horrific tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th, we were all temporarily paralyzed. We stared at our TV screens like the rest of the world, wondering, “how”? And then, “why”? And then, “What now?”
But knitters don’t stay paralyzed for long. Within minutes of the tornado touchdown, we started receiving messages on our Facebook page, wondering if we were ok. And very shortly thereafter, the emails began flowing in – from Kansas, from Alaska, from Ireland: “How can we help?”
The answer was Loops of Love. Brent threw together a logo. We put it on the Facebook page. An initiative was born.
And less than 6 weeks later, we had this:
More than 250 handmade blankets, prayer shawls, facecloths and toys, ready to load up and deliver to Moore, to be distributed to the families affected by all the recent tornadoes, including those that struck Shawnee and other areas before and after May 20th, leaving thousands without homes.
Of course, the victims needed water, and food, and diapers. But we stitchers know the comfort that only something handmade can bring. And to help them feel even more loved, we attached a Loops of Love tag to each item, along with the name of the person who made it.
We packed everything back into the boxes and stuffed our Expedition full. There was barely room for our 3 kids! Luckily, Moore is just over an hour from Tulsa. So, off we went.
In the aftermath of the disaster, naturally the Red Cross and other relief organization sprung into action. But it was reportedly a group of about 10 small, area churches that really led the effort, with tiny Trinity Church of the Nazarene at the helm.
And on the front lines was Patti: Minister’s Wife. Relief worker. Angel.
Patti’s eyes welled up as she told of a young girl who arrived at the church with a heavy shoebox. She opened the box to reveal nearly $200 in bills she had collected herself from friends and neighbors. But what made it heavy was several pounds’ worth of loose change. Patti said she could just imagine tiny children breaking open their piggy banks to help with the relief effort.
And then this box arrived from “a friend.”
Inside the box:
The church was packed full of household items – cereal and toothbrushes lined the halls in makeshift stacks.
After we bid Patti farewell (with a promise to return in a month or so with another load), we drove a couple of blocks to the area hardest hit by the biggest twister. To our surprise, it wasn’t blocked off, and we were able to drive right into the neighborhood – or what was left of it.
This photo is dark, but the message on the tarps is clear: HOPE STILL LIVES HERE.
What struck me the most – more than the damage, or the debris in the trees, was just this: The emptiness. The wide open space. The way you can see the sky – too much sky.
Our car was so quiet as we left the neighborhood. We decided to stop by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to end our trip on a high note. Still, you can see in these photos from the Chilhuly glass exhibit, that the disaster was still on Cecily’s mind – and that it would likely remain with all of us for some time to come.
Still, it was such a valuable lesson for our kids, the importance of reaching out and helping. And I personally felt so blessed to be among the messengers of hope. So, a heartfelt thank you to all of you, around the world, who have made and still are making donations to Loops of Love. I can tell you, firsthand, it has made and will make a difference…a first stitch in the fabric of these families’ lives, as they work to knit their world back together again.