University students, employees lend hands in tornado cleanup efforts

Photo by Kyle Spade



Northwestern News Editor

Over the weekend northwest Oklahoma was devastated by several  tornados just south of Alva in Hopeton and east of Alva near Ingersoll on Saturday. Just after midnight on Sunday a tornado touched down in Woodward that killed six people and injured dozens more.

With one of Northwestern’s campuses being in Woodward, the Northwestern community has rallied to help in donation collection and relief efforts.

Northwestern President Janet Cunningham announced a “Ranger Relief” work day for Friday, April 20. Cunningham invited students and employees to participate, but reminded that classes are still in session, and attendance to class is still expected.

Northwestern will provide transportation from Alva to Woodward with the first caravan leaving the east side parking area of Ranger Field at 8 a.m.–this shift will work from 9 a.m. to noon. A second caravan will leave from Alva at the same meeting place at noon and return to Alva around 5:30 p.m.

Cunningham also said students and employees at Enid are invited to help and can make arrangements with Lori Coonrod on the Enid campus.

Volunteers must be registered in order  to participate, Cunningham said, and they can register by clicking the “Ranger Relief” link on the Northwestern website homepage. Registration ends at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Additionally, Woodward students and employees are encouraged to meet up with volunteers at the start of each shift in Woodward, 9 a..m. or 1:15 p.m., and all volunteers will have to sign forms, according to Ashton Ghaemi, social work secretary, who is helping to coordinate  the relief efforts from the Alva campus.

“It was really amazing how many people wanted to help, and we acted fast.” Ghaemi said. “A few campus clubs have already started gathering items. The Social Workers Association of Tomorrow, had three graduates lose their homes in Woodward, so they sent them each a $200 gift card from Walmart,” Ghaemi said.

Sara Acosta, a junior theatre major and Woodward native, went to the area on Monday to see what she could do with cleanup efforts.

“I grew up in Woodward and actually worked in the movie theater which was destroyed. It was really weird to see, rather, not see it there,” Acosta said.

Acosta also said when she was in the mobile home area she saw a lot of little girl toys and was saddened by the thought of the two young girls who lost their lives there.

“I went to Joplin to help clean up with Castle Players last year, but this was totally different. It was six months after the tornado hit Joplin.  Just a day after the storm I saw so much more personal items that people lost,” Acosta said.

Amanda Jackson, a sophomore accounting major attending the Woodward campus, lived just blocks away from the tornado’s path. She said her home was luckily not damaged.

“Those who were more affected need our prayers and help.  No one should ever have to go through with what those people are going through,” Jackson said.

Students in the psychology club on the Enid campus took this call to action early on. They collected items around Enid and Vance Air Force Base and took them to Woodward on Wednesday.

Dr. Sherril Stone, professor of psychology on the Enid campus, said it was really great to see her students take it upon themselves to gather donations for people who have been affected.

“Steven Starling, one of our students in the department, lost his home in the storm, and we collected things for him. Six or seven students in the club went to help on Wednesday,” Stone said.

Kristi Jarvis, a psych student from Enid said they gathered three carloads of  donated items

Ghaemi said if people want to take donations themselves, there are several different locations for specific items. The first, for clothing,  is at Joseph’s Coat, located at 417 Main Street in Woodward. Food, personal hygiene and furniture drop-off is at the Living Word Fellowship located at 1310 Oklahoma Ave. Walk-in monetary donations can be given at 1209 9th Street at the Red Cross, telephone donation by calling 405-228-9500, and check donations at American Red Cross of Central and Western OK Dept. # 96- 0397 Oklahoma City, OK 73196-0397.

More information is available from Ghaemi at (580) 327-8134 or Dean of Woodward campus Deena Fisher at (580) 254-2501.

“ . . . so many individuals, students and employees alike have expressed a desire to help in the recovery efforts ongoing in Woodward. You truly embody the Ranger spirit,” Cunningham wrote in an e-mail to all campuses Wednesday.


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