June 2013
May 23, 2013

Oklahoma disaster a reminder to give

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT United
Teachers carry children away from Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City, Okla, Monday, May 20, 2013. Near SW 149th and Hudson. (AP Photo/ The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern)
Caption: Teachers carry children away from Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school in south Oklahoma City, Okla, Monday, May 20, 2013. Near SW 149th and Hudson. (AP Photo/ The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern)

When disaster strikes, generosity blooms.

After tornadoes devastated Moore, Okla., killing 24 people, including nine children, and destroying hundreds of homes and two elementary schools, donations have been pouring in from union members to support their sisters and brothers in Oklahoma. Disaster recovery can take months, and that's why it is so important to keep donations flowing.

"The terrifying events in Oklahoma underscore why the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund was created," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue. "Once again, tragedy has devastated a school community. Once again, teachers and school staff heroically did all they could to protect the children in their care. Our hearts go out to all who have suffered losses."

Donahue urged NYSUT members to help by giving to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund. Donations will be made to the union's national affiliates for the affected areas in Oklahoma.

The NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund was set up in 2005 for charitable purposes to help union members after natural or man-made disasters. Most recently, the fund has provided grants to nearly 2,600 members whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The union's "Throw Out the Lifeline" campaign prompted locals to host activities to raise money for the fund.

In hundreds of notes from grateful members thanking the fund and those who donated, what resonated throughout was an overwhelming appreciation for the caring and support shown by their colleagues. "We are rebuilding our home and hope to move back in sometime in June," one couple wrote. One mom wrote that she used some of the funds to replace her children's toys.

Donahue said Sandy impacted an unprecedented number of members, "those who were in the path of the storm and those who were spared and moved to give."

Two years ago, 160 members were helped by the fund after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.