In the midst of the tragedy that ravaged Oklahoma earlier this week, there are also stories of Good Samaritans—particularly local churches and charities—that have displayed the best of the spirit and power of civil society to help those in need.
“In the briefings today it was apparent there’s FEMA and then there’s the faith-based FEMA,” noted NBC News anchor Brian Williams. “There are no fewer—I counted—than 30 churches that are banding together, and that’s going to be a huge part of this recovery.”
One of the shelters first opened on Monday was St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, where the church provided cots, blankets, showers, and toiletries for those who had lost their houses. Fellowship Church in Fort Worth, Texas, also immediately opened its doors as a place to hold the necessary items donated by volunteers. Volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse came from states around the country to immediately set up six shelters and set forth a fleet of trucks to search through the neighborhoods that were hardest hit.
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization was immediately on the ground after the tornado hit, helping in search-and-rescue efforts and praying with people—regardless of faith background—for comfort and strength.
“[A]nywhere from 24 to 40 chaplains [will be] on the ground every day all across the storm track just to give emotional and spiritual care to people and give them hope because that’s where we find a great place to minister in disaster relief,” said Sam Porter, director of disaster relief for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
As Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall and James Carafano have explained, these organizations uniquely possess the situational awareness and physical proximity that are necessary in emergencies. They sprang to immediate action because they were already invested in Oklahoma. Because these charities are present before the disaster, they have intimate knowledge of how to best help those in need in disaster situations.
In times of distress, volunteers step up and charitable contributions pour forth. Moore, Oklahoma, is a vivid reminder of the importance of communities and neighbors supporting and sustaining one another.