Every day in every way, The Salvation Army continues to help the people of Oklahoma. And as we are honored to help those who have gone through unspeakable tragedy, we are blessed by the resiliency of the human spirit.
On a recent afternoon, Lt. Josh Robinett from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and two volunteers, Jeff Davis and Dana Jensen, were roving through several neighborhoods in Moore making sure folks had a hot meal–hot dogs and mashed potatoes–and a cold drink as they continued to wade through the storm ravaged debris surrounding their homes–or where their homes used to be.
“This is the ultimate mission,” said Robinett, about roaming around in a canteen. “This is God’s love in action.”
And that love was very active.
Driving down streets, dodging piles of debris and other emergency response vehicles, tow trucks and insurance carriers, the crew would stop every several yards when they saw groups of people working–or were in an area where they thought people would be working. They didn’t want to miss a chance to feed someone or share a gentle word. At times Robinett and his crew would jump out of the canteen looking for folks only to find out that that they had their own supplies. That didn’t matter – it was the feeling of community was palpable. And in some ways that was the most important.
At one location, three generations of one family were together–grandfather, son and grandson. After talking with the grandfather for a bit he shared with us that his grandson had been at Plaza Elementary School on May 20 the day the tornado hit. He choked up while sharing how he told his son about the tornado and that his grandson was taken out of the school before it was hit. “What could have been…,” said the patriarch of the family, as he cried, continuing to realize that his grandson’s life was saved. That story also brought this canteen worker to tears. Before we left, this dear boy whose life had been saved, gave Lt. Robinett a big hug, thanking him for the Gatorade.
Another couple of friends we met and fed lost their home but not their nine dogs. They were saved. And another home owner had lost his home, but everyone in his family was alive and well. He was smiling as he shared with us that he was looking to God for the next steps.
And then we fed those volunteering to clean up the neighborhood. One volunteer was visiting the area for her 30 birthday and said this was the best way to celebrate. About the hot dog she was eating from a Styrofoam plate–she said it was the best she ever had.