Two moving trucks departed for central Oklahoma early this morning full of donated goods for victims of the tornado that struck the Moore, Okla., area on May 20. A third trailer donated by UPS also departed and will arrive around the same time as the moving trucks.
Hundreds of New Mexicans over the last nine days donated water, food, medical supplies, clothing, toiletries, linens, towels, toys, books, purses, pet supplies and baby supplies in response to UNM softball head coach Erica Beach's call for a donation drive.
Just over a week ago Beach opened Lobo Softball Field and facilities as a donation collection center not knowing what the turnout would be.
"Looking back it was just a complete whirlwind in which I experienced basically every emotion," Beach said. "From despair, while watching reports of the tornado, to hope, to gratitude...there are just so many emotions that have crossed over through all the people we've met and the stories we've heard.
"It's definitely something that has changed me forever, and I know it's changed a lot of people who have been involved. It's been pretty special."
Loads of donated goods poured in at a steady rate - sometimes four to five carloads at a time - spilling from the Lobo locker room into the hitting facility after the first day. Volunteers did the best they could to keep up and organize donations by category.
Several people who donated or volunteered had personal connections to Moore or to central Oklahoma. Many had been victims of a disaster before and knew how vital assistance from neighbors can be in such a situation. Others simply wanted to do anything they could to help.
On Thursday when it was time to load the trucks and trailer, over 100 volunteers congregated at Lobo Field and many hands made light work.
"The amount of people that came out to help with this - especially with the loading tells me that Lobo nation is united and Lobo nation is dedicated to doing good," Beach said. "We couldn't be more proud to be New Mexicans and to be Lobos. This doesn't happen with just us - this was thousands of people who contributed to this entire cause. People drove from far away and took collections from their neighbors and church - all these people worked together to make this happen and it is my utmost pleasure to be able to deliver this to Oklahoma city and represent our state when we get there."
Beach and former Lobo football player Derek Watson are driving the two 26-foot trucks and will meet former UNM football player Kyle Coulter in the Moore area. The trio will see to the distribution of the donated goods. Coulter currently resides in Forest Lake, Okla., about 14 miles northeast of Moore, and serves as a volunteer firefighter with his local fire department. His unit, along with other emergency response teams in central Oklahoma, was on the scene the night the tornado struck and has continued to serve in relief efforts.
Beach and Watson anticipate reaching the Oklahoma City area Friday afternoon. The funds raised through lobos4OKC as well as monies donated in person at the field during the donation drive will cover cost of fuel and lodging. Any extra money will be spent on additional supplies for the Moore area.
"We're going to get there as quickly as we can and get these goods into the hands of the people that need them," she said.
Check the Lobo Softball Twitter for updates on the journey - @UNMSoftball.
Media Contact: Chelsea Einerwold (218) 296-2845; email: firstname.lastname@example.org