Austin Residents to Aid Tornado Victims

Posted at: 05/22/2013 9:32 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 10:12 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Since Monday’s devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, relief organizations have seen an outpouring of support from across the country.

And now a group of Austin residents is ready to lend a hand.

A small group of four volunteers will journey south on Friday to join in the clean-up process, thanks in part to Hy-Vee.

Tomorrow at the Austin Hy-Vee, cashiers will ask patrons to round up their bill to the nearest dollar and donate the change to help buy gas for the group's trip.

Any additional proceeds will go directly to victims, and the group hopes that in some small way the whole city will join them in their trip.

"Instead of just having Hy-Vee donate to it, let's get the community involved,” said store director Todd Hepler. “Because I’m pretty sure there's a lot of people in our community who want to go but just don't have the means to get there.”

Christy Capps, one of the volunteers going on the trip, grew up in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, and even lived in Moore for a year and a half when she was a girl.

"It was heartbreaking, it was devastating,” Capps said. “I’ve been wanting to go back to Oklahoma for a while to visit family and friends, but not like this."

Although she said Moore has grown substantially since she was a kid, she still has fond memories of the town.

"I remember it just being like your little, royal, suburban little town where everybody got along and you met everybody down at the gas station,” Capps said. “Everybody knows everybody."

Now that small town lies in rubble, but Capps and others are ready to help rebuild.

Although the group doesn't know exactly what they'll be doing when they get there, they said they just hope to help in any way they can.

"I can't imagine if it were to happen to us here in Austin,” said fellow volunteer Martha Liskey. “I would hope and pray that there would be organizations and people that would come across the country to help us, so I would like to lend a helping hand."

"When a crisis happens and you see everybody coming together all over the world to pull together and help the community, it blesses my heart,” Capps said.

Our local volunteers aren't the only ones heading to Oklahoma. President Obama has also planned a trip for Sunday to meet with survivors and first responders.