When Robert Norris saw the mass devastation caused by the deadly tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday, he knew he had to do something. So he gathered a few friends with big pickup trucks and started delivering food, first-aid kits, tools and other supplies to the people and communities in need.
"I could not get past the sadness on people's faces," the 31-year-old owner-operator of Certa Pro Painters in Edmond, Oklahoma, told Mainstreet.com. "The police were escorting everyone out of the area, because they were no longer pulling out survivors. As one EMT told me as I asked how to help, he said, 'Go to Search and Rescue because we are just waiting to pull out bodies here.'"
Often after natural disasters, you hear about the businesses that suffered damage or, worse, lost everything. But there’s another side of the story: The business owners who use their ingenuity, passion and managerial skills to bring people together and help with the relief efforts. These entrepreneurs use their connections in their community to bring people together for good causes.
Norris is one such business owner. He calls his makeshift relief effort “2 Men, 1 Truck,” and has partnered with a local bar, Grandad’s, as a gathering spot for people who want to drop off goods or load trucks for delivery. Grandad’s Bar's Facebook page is being used to solicit volunteers and donations, as well as organize music events, with proceeds going to relief groups. They have already delivered several truckloads to a Baptist church in Moore that serves as a checkpoint for residents, and to the Red Cross emergency teams.
Oklahoma business owners aren't the only ones getting involved. Kenny Bryant, owner of Coldwell Banker Mountaineer Real Estate in Beckley, West Virginia, is collecting batteries and work gloves to send to relief efforts in Moore. He’s also encouraging others in his community to stop over with anything else they want to donate.
“They need a lot of help and I would like to do something more,” Bryant told the Register-Herald. “I heard they were in need of those items, and I feel that it will be the best way to help these people out a little bit.”
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