-Editor’s Note: The following story is a recap from Vandalia resident David Ray’s trip with his daughter Emma along with their dogs to help those in need after tornados devastated Oklahoma in last May.
When an EF5 tornado wreaked havoc on Moore, Okla. on May 20, Vandalia’s David Ray was moved so much about what he saw on television that he felt he needed to do what he could to help in this time of tragedy.
The day after he immediately organized an effort through Facebook sites and The Vandalia Leader. His goal was to take donations to those affected by the tornado while knowing he still had to figure out logistics and finances.
“Within a few hours I had a couple of people offer to use their existing businesses as drop off points for donations,” Ray said.
He had drop off locations in Bowling Green, Elsberry, and Troy quickly established.
While Ray was doing this with the best of intentions, he was surprised at the negative reaction he was receiving on internet sites.
“I was not expecting…the amount of people that I don’t even know leaving negative messages on the sites and even going as far as to call and text me saying it is not a good idea to go, with thoughts like ‘It’s a waste of time,’ ‘They don’t want any more donations,’ ‘You will just be in the way,’ and so on.”
Ray said the messages worked as a motivator for him to follow through with his plan.
With a contact living just outside Moore, Okla. in place, the next step was to figure out the logistics of making a trip just a few days before his daughter Emma’s 8th birthday party.
“She had her 8th birthday party scheduled for Saturday,” Ray said. “She asked if we could do the party another day because she wanted to go help the kids there. Needless to say, I was one proud Daddy.”
While donations were coming in quickly, gas money was not.
“I called the folks that had said they wanted to give, and all but two backed out for various reasons,” Ray added. “I was really starting to get disheartened. I didn’t have the money myself to finance the trip and it totally hinged on the donations. One local Vandalia gentleman made good on his promise and got some money to me. I appreciated it more than I could say, but it wasn’t going to cover the trip. I had pretty much decided not to go…”
His fortune changed on Wednesday when he received a UPS package from an old friend from more than 20 years ago during his days in Baltimore, Md.
It included donations of a substantial amount and it was sent overnight to Ray.
His dad followed with a call and donation from Saverton Baptist Church along with a donation from The Crossing in Hannibal that included gas cards.
He later received financial donations from a group of nurses and Pike County Memorial Hospital, Elsberry residents, and numerous anonymous individuals.
After receiving more donations from Vandalia and the surrounding area, it was time to revisit the plan of where he was going to go.
When his trailer fell through, he found a rental cargo van at a bargain rate.
Read the rest of this feature story in the June 12 issue or purchase an electronic edition at https://www.vandalialeader.com/?page_id=33