The Memphis Grizzlies disposed of the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games earlier this month in rather easy fashion.
But, after the tornadoes that demolished the surrounding areas in Oklahoma City, there’s no lingering bad blood from the City of Memphis toward their neighbors to the west.
Many businesses around the University District, including Newby’s Memphis at 539 S. Highland St. organized food and donation drives to assist the residents of Moore, Okla., where dozens of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed by a tornado outbreak that swept through the state.
Newby’s, a prominent stable of the University District, conducted the drive May 23, and the turnout was promising. Though official numbers haven’t been tallied, organizers and nearby residents were encouraged by how many people showed up.
University District resident and Christian Brothers University alum who attended
the drive. “It just goes to show that no matter what the case, people in this
city will jump at the opportunity to lend a helping hand. That’s been the case
as long as we’ve been around as a city.”
The drive featured people from all walks of life – including a man dressed up in an Uncle Sam get-up collecting donations. The Minivan Blues Band played as the night approached midnight;
donations rolled in mostly until then, as well.
Chuck Hutton Toyota donated two Toyota Tundra 4x4’s, full of food supplies, to the drive, which
especially warmed McCleskey’s heart.
“I mean, you can say that you give back and that you care about the community, or you can actually do something that shows it,” he said.“Look at what Chuck Hutton did. Look at the people here
who genuinely care about a place and a people they may have never been to or met. This is special.”
Officials in Oklahoma say the cost of rebuilding the communities that were afflicted by the tornadoes on May 21 could exceed $2 billion.
Brandon Harris, a carpet salesman from the University District, said he realizes that drives like this are only drops in the bucket, but that they can really make a difference if everyone around the
country pitches in.
“They need a lot more than what we, as just one community, can offer, but I think this is a great place to start,” Harris said. “We all need to rally around that state and give everything we can.
You can’t replace homes and lives, but you can do your best to help the grieving process. That’s what we need to do.”