Thunder Supports Carney and El Reno Schools

The damage from the tornadoes that swept through in May was devastating, and all of Oklahoma was affected in some way. The Thunder represents every corner of Oklahoma, which is why on Thursday the team supported back-to-school events in both Carney and El Reno, communities which also were deeply impacted by the storms.

During two separate events led by Feed the Children, the Thunder found a way to show school students, faculty and administrators that it cares about them and their communities. In El Reno, Thunder Drummers played throughout the afternoon as a part of a back-to-school carnival hosted at Redlands Community College, and at Carney School, Rumble came out to entertain the students during the outdoor festivities at the school. These fun, welcoming and comforting events were a much needed boost for students returning to school just a few months after tornadoes hit their communities.

“Our goal is first of all to make everything normal and to get back to where we were at the end of last year,” Carney Schools Superintendent Bo Osborn said. “Just a consistent, encouraging and nurturing environment.”

“It was a pretty fun event because this is my senior year,” Carney senior Tiffany Hemphill said. “It’s pretty exciting to come back and have things back to normal, back in school.”

As the Thunder has learned over its five seasons in Oklahoma City, the civic pride in the state of Oklahoma is at the highest level, which means individuals and organizations embrace the opportunity to help others. In addition to the face-painting, games, music and celebrations, Feed the Children, a local charity, provided backpacks, food, Avon products, school supplies, clothing and school to families in need at the two events on Thursday as a part of their continued efforts to help Oklahomans recover from the May tragedies.

“The thing about a small community is that people really pull together quickly,” Feed the Children Vice President of Church and Volunteer Engagement John Frick said. “They come together and that’s what happened here in Carney. It’s really been our privilege to come alongside the community and say, ‘How can we help you deal with the issues that you’re dealing with?’”

“Our own employees were impacted by these storms,” Feed the Children PR coordinator Abby Harris said. “These people are our neighbors. We’re headquartered in Oklahoma City. It’s important for us to give back to our neighbors and let them know that we are not going anywhere. We will continue to provide help as long as the area needs it."

Another organization that has been at the forefront of the recovery efforts has been Redlands Community College, which was the headquarters for all of the immediate help that poured into El Reno immediately after the storms. Redlands helped El Reno residents get back on their feet in May, and three months later it again jumped on the opportunity to help those in need as local students returned to school.

“We were so excited,” marketing director of Redlands Community College Carlee Nicklos said. “We can’t see anything greater than helping out our community. We love helping out and getting stuff when we have a big enough facility.”

Through highs and lows, Oklahomans stick together and join one another in both celebration and mourning. No matter what citizens in this community are always willing to lend a helping hand. The last three months in Moore, Carney, El Reno and many other communities have been a testament to that inner strength Oklahomans display daily.

Thursdays events were a continuation of that spirit of generous giving, and it had a huge impact on the people who needed it the most. Ron Thompson and his son Cooper, heading to Pre-K, were ecstatic about the back-to-school event as well as the much-needed supplies. For Carney junior Shea Alford, the support she and her community have received over the summer has provided a great emotional boost heading into the school year.

“We’ve been through a lot and it’s nice to see the community come out for us,” Thompson explained. “It’s been a great break in the pace of what’s been going on with us.”

“It was amazing really, how many people would come together and help you,” Alford said. “It really helps you realize how good people are. You never think about it until something like this actually happens.”

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