Despite killer tornadoes and destructive storms, which struck central Oklahoma Friday night, a determined 7-year-old from Lubbock, Texas, arrived in Shawnee Saturday morning with her family and fulfilled the little girl’s and family’s wishes to help victims from the May 19 storms in this area.
Laney James, who will be a second grader at Willow Bend Elementary in the fall, is the daughter of Paula and Kyle James. The family arrived a day short of two weeks of when the killer tornadoes tore through portions of Bethel Acres and areas west and north of Shawnee.
The massive cleanup of the impacted areas continues with hundreds of volunteers still helping local residents trying to put back the pieces of their lives. Laney and her family wanted to be a small part of that by bringing a trailer load of supplies from Lubbock.
Asked Saturday about the efforts to help people in this area, Laney said, “It’s nice. I’m surprised the people donated like they did.”
While her parents helped coordinate a collection site a week ago Saturday at their church, Laney came up with the idea of having a lemonade stand to help raise money and give it to the Salvation Army. She, along with her sisters Kyla and Madisyn, did just that, and the money was presented to the Salvation Army Saturday.
Paula James described the response from people in her hometown as “overwhelming and humbling and a blessing to us.”
Shawnee Mayor Wes Mainord was on hand to greet Laney and her family Saturday morning and also helped unload the trailer of goods, which will be stored in the warehouse of a local businessman until they are needed.
The mayor said, “The kindness of people and the country is just overwhelming. Not just this family, but the community of Lubbock are great people and this is just a great country.”
The family left Texas Friday evening, staying overnight in Elk City after they learned of the storms in central Oklahoma.
Mainord said, “Never underestimate the power of one little girl who can sure make a difference in a community.”
Laney came up with the idea of helping people here after the tornadoes struck the area May 19, and on that Monday she talked about it with her mother. When Laney was with her mom at her mom’s office that Monday, she heard her mom talking to her boss about the tornadoes, which struck this area, and then the one which that hit Moore on Monday afternoon.
Paula’s boss has a daughter who lives in Oklahoma.
Page 2 of 2 - When asked why she wanted to do it, Laney said, “because if my stuff got lost I would be sad. I like to give a lot. I’m going to give toys, shoes and clothes and blankets.
“These are my things. I’m going to get some money and buy some more for these kids,” she said.
Paula said a complete stranger in Lubbock heard about their efforts and offered a trailer for them to bring what they had collected to Shawnee. Kyle said a car dealership in Lubbock also heard about it through news reports and he told them he would provide the pickup at no cost for them to pull the trailer with.
Paula’s brother, Marcus Lively, a police officer in Lamesa, Texas, about an hour from Lubbock, drove the pickup truck pulling the trailer loaded with an assortment of items.
Kyle said, “Put faith in God and it all turns out.” He added the response just all seemed to come together.
They left Elk City about 8:30 Saturday morning, arriving here shortly after 11. After being treated to lunch, Laney and her family started back to make the 417-mile return trip to be home late Saturday.