Members of five Rotary Clubs in Kentucky drove 12 hours to Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee Friday with a charter bus and school bus full of donations for volunteers and those affected by the May 19 tornado.
Rotary Club members from Murray, Mayfield, Fulton, Hickman and Paducah, Ky. gathered up 30,000 pounds of items and $4,000 to donate. Travis said along with the funds the group brought down today, they also have received donations from Oakland and Palm Beach to be delivered at a later date.
Keith Travis, Murray Rotary Club member, said they began making donations after natural disasters when Joplin, Mo. was hit. After that, the group made donations in New York after Hurricane Sandy.
"In January we started pre-planning and started to stock pile goods," Travis said.
He said usually the group uses trucks to deliver goods, but because they had so many donations, they chose to drive down two busses full. Because after some disasters, there is a lot of un-organization and confusion, Travis said he and the group tried to make sure all of the goods were organized and limited donations to about 10 item categories which included items such as water, toiletries and toys.
Travis said he had to ask another volunteer, Bob Mobley, to take turns driving with George Baird and two other drivers just last night because they had so much to bring.
Baird, who works for Murray Calloway Transit, said he just wanted to be able to help. He is planning on making another trip down as soon as possible with resources for animals in need.
"Most people think about humans, but forget about the animals. They need help too," he said.
The group left Kentucky at 3 a.m. and left as soon as the goods were unloaded to make the 12-hour drive back. With them they brought a paramedic who was headed to Moore to help and an ex-marine, Michael Shaffer, who plans on staying as long as he can to help where needed.
"I just got the impulse to help out," Shaffer said.
When the busses pulled up to unload, several members of Shawnee Rotary Club, along with Shawnee mayor and police chief, stepped up to lend a hand.
Mayor Wes Mainord, who was emotional, said people want to help so much and several people have been turned away for now. He said it's disheartening to tell them to 'just hold on.'
He said although Shawnee has had so many people donate that they're trying to find places for everything, it is incredible that people from all over the country have been calling him asking how they can help. He said people are doing tremendous things and Oklahomans are great, but it's not just them, it's everyone in the country.
Page 2 of 2 - "All you have to do is see things like this and it restores your faith in this country and in Americans," Mainord said.
Police Chief Russell Frantz said the volunteer spirit is amazing.
"It's great that there's such an outpouring from people across the country," he said.
Don Lynch, Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director, said he is very appreciative of all the incredible support. He said the donations from Kentucky would go to help workers and people who have been affected.
"People are just giving beyond generously. I can't say thank you enough," Lynch said.
Rotary District 5770 Governor Elect, Terry Godfrey, said the donations are great and there are a lot of volunteers. Godfrey works for an electric company and has been working around the clock to help in several different areas. He said he broke loose from work to come over and help with donations.
Tony McMurry, a Shawnee Rotary Club board member, said he thinks the donations and volunteers are fabulous and unbelievable. He was known around the group as the man who organized the whole thing with members from Kentucky, but McMurray said Kentucky members had everything completely organized and they just emailed him for where and when to bring things.
"It makes you proud to be a Rotarian," McMurry said.