Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward's collective psyche was damaged by the April 15, 2012 tornado but not destroyed.
That became evident in the hours after the tornado, which left 6 dead and scores of homes and businesses damaged and destroyed.
The cleanup, with contributions from hundreds of volunteers, started almost immediately and a recovery group started organizing within a couple of days.
With that in mind, Woodward's Ministerial Alliance is putting together a "Day of Service" on Saturday, April 13 to mark the tornado's anniversary.
The Ministerial Alliance decided "the best way to mark the anniversary is to serve others," said Becky Pierson, president of the organization. "In the midst of bad, the most important thing we can do is to do good."
Pierson said the initial cleanup effort was one of the inspirations for the service day.
"What made our cleanup different compared to nearly every other disaster I've ever heard about and what we were told by VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the group that helped organize Recover Woodward), and state and national groups we work with, was that we took care of our own here, took care of everyone as we could," she said. "This is a way to pay it forward, a fitting way to mark the anniversary in the name of the survivors by going out and doing more good for the day."
The Day of Service will officially start at noon in the large parking lot at the Mitchell Theaters on 34th Street, which was in the path of the tornado.
Volunteers will gather, hear a quick welcome, then be divided
are organizing projects for the service day and the churches that were unable to organize a project are sending volunteers to work as well. Any individual or group that wants to take part is also welcome.
"We have projects across the board," Pierson said. "We have some that kids can do and some people can do sitting down."
One of those projects involves preparing food boxes for the Families Helping Families food distribution that takes place each Monday at Living Word Fellowship.
Another is cleaning up the trails - the paved and dirt trails - on the field station grounds where broken limbs remain from the recent snow storm.
"We will need some chainsaws for that one," Pierson said.
Other projects include planting some trees around the homes that were destroyed and have been rebuilt and volunteering with the Grade Outreach Soup Kitchen.
There are also other various cleanup projects including one organized by the First Baptist Church to clean up along Hanks Trail in the morning for those who want to help but may not be available in the afternoon.
"The main thing is we want to get the word out," Pierson said. "People can come and do things, that's what it is all about."
Anyone who wants to volunteer on April 13, or if you have a group looking for a volunteer project, you can contact Pierson at 580-571-1694, or you can just show up at noon that day.
This Sunday (April 7), Pierson's church, the New Horizon United Methodist Church, is also having a service day.
Instead of holding its regular worship service, the church members are gathering at 10:30 a.m. do to a couple of projects around town. People of all skill levels and ages can participate, from helping make disaster kits to send overseas and plant some flowers in pots and take kids to visit nursing homes. The work day is set to last until 12:30 p.m.
"Hopefully we'll be able to do some kind of yard cleanup or something like that," Pierson said.