By Tony Downing
MOORE, Okla. — Pictures on TV didn’t do the damage justice for what really happened, was the statement made by Colcord FFA students who went to help with tornado damage clean up in Moore and El Reno recently.
“I had seen the pictures on TV, but I was still surprised by all the damage,” Colcord FFA Reporter Kim Hannon said. “It was sad, very sad.”
On June 24, Hannon and her FFA Chapter took 18 people from Colcord to help clean up the debris left by the May tornadoes, and returned on June 26.
“I was very proud of the kids that went, wished we could have taken more, but I was proud of the ones that did go,” said Colcord FFA Advisor Josh Gilstrap.
Gilstrap took his chapter to Moore where the group joined other FFA chapters from Oklahoma and Kansas to help clear debris.
“In Moore we cleaned up a park and some other areas. The Moore FFA held a dance that night for all the chapters,” Gilstrap added.
Seeing the tornado destruction had a lasting impact on the Dunn sisters Olivia and Clair.
“I was shocked that this much destruction could come from a tornado. I have always known tornadoes could do damage, but didn’t think that something like this could come from a tornado,” Olivia said.
Clair added, “It was very scary what these people went through. Even scarier that this could happen to our town as well.”
Justin Sroufe was in awe of the damage, “All I could think about was ‘Wow’ this is tore up pretty bad.”
It also gave the students a new sense of respect for storms.
“The damage was pretty bad with everything tore up. I have a lot of different ways I think about thunderstorms now,” Jesse Copeland added.
Gilstrap saw a different side to some of his students.
“I saw a concern for the fellow man come out in the kids while we were there.”
The chapter went to El Reno on the second day to clean up wheat fields of debris so that the wheat could be harvested.
“On the second day we helped clean up an 80-acre wheat field and started on a 200-acre field and got about half done before we had to leave,” Gilstrap said.
“When I saw all the damage all I could feel was compassion for the people that lost so much. I thought it was awesome so many people from so many different places came together to help these people,” Regan Craghead said.
Another lesson from the trip learned was that the students could with other chapters and strangers to achieve a common goal.
“Working with the other chapters helped the kids learn to work with people better, especially when you want to achieve something,” Gilstrap said.
Clair Dunn said, “I thought it was awesome all the different people coming together and working so hard.”
“One thing we are taught in FFA is the motto ‘FFA Strong’. I think we proved with all the other chapters there from Oklahoma, and other places, that it is a true statement. Us coming together to help people like this truly is FFA strong,” said Olivia Dunn.
The group had a fundraiser in early June to help with the trip and a number of individuals helped support the chapter with funding for the trip.
“The people have been so good to help us. We are thankful to Country Side Bible Church, Donna Smith, Suzy Harrington, Sharron Simmons, and Gilstrap Farms for their help.”
The chapter had $400 left in donations after paying for expenses and donated the money to the Moore FFA Chapter.
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the kids that went with us. They worked hard and brought so much back from the trip,” Gilstrap said.
Colcord FFA students going on the trip included, Kim Hannon, Regan Craghead, River Craghead, Clair Dunn, Olivia Dunn, Trenton Lyons, Justin Sroufe, Tanner Nall, Nick Shelley, Tatum Doty, Caitlin Harris, Dalton Shackleford, Cayley Barbee and Jesse Copeland.
Sponsors going on the trip with Gilstrap were Susie Harris and Valerie Gilstrap.
Find this article by Tony Downing at GrandLakeNews.com