MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 24, 2013

Company rushes help to Moore

Advantage gives to tornado survivors

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Advantage Controls employees recalled the gratitude Moore tornado victims showed upon getting bottled water Wednesday afternoon.

“They were just thankful,” said Steven Ramsey, who works in production at Advantage. “We told them we didn’t have a whole lot, but we had to do something.”

Ramsey and engineering director Todd Thomas spent Wednesday afternoon handing out water and distributing donations to victims of the tornado that swept through Moore on Monday. The two brought cash donations and items collected by fellow employees.

Employees of the Muskogee manufacturing company collected about $4,000 to help the tornado victims, said Advantage Controls Chief Executive Officer Dan Morris. Several employees cashed in vacation days and donated the cash equivalent of those days, he said. Other donations included a generator, gas grill and numerous food and convenience items, he said.

The company teamed up with the Oklahoma Parkinson’s Disease Association to provide personal help to the tornado victims, said Morris, president of the association’s board of directors. He said OPDA Coordinator Jennifer Johnson had a friend in Moore who survived the tornado.

“When I got the email from Jennifer, I thought this would be a great vehicle to help,” Morris said. “Many of our employees had expressed the desire to do their part.”

Thomas said he and Ramsey left Wednesday morning and spent the afternoon in Moore.

“We had a lot of cases of water, a generator, charcoal cooker and enough bread for 500 sandwiches,” he said.

“Everyone was without electricity,” Ramsey said. He said they took a generator to a family raising three girls and a boy.

The two also drove through storm-ravaged neighborhoods. They saw people searching their homes for belongings. They also took dozens of pictures of overturned cars, bookcases and china cabinets standing untouched among the rubble.

“It makes you really grateful and fortunate for things you have,” Thomas said.

“It makes you not take it for granted,” Ramsey said, recalling how he felt “very emotional.”

“It was a sad day to be there,” he said. “I hope we made a little bit of difference.”

And collections continue.

John Overton, pastor of New Hope Assembly of God said the church has a trailer at the Homeland parking lot at York Street and Chandler Road and a 53-foot tractor-trailer at the church, 110 W. 58th St. S.

A benefit mud volleyball game, set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hilltop Arena, will feature hot dogs from Chet’s Dairy Freeze, said Dione Teehee.

“A portion of the profits will be donated to the tornado victims,” Teehee said.

Cost to sign up is $10 per player.

“A person who does not have a team can sign up, and we will put a team together for those who want to play,” Teehee said.

People also can donate items such as wipes or trash bags to help with the clean-up efforts, she said.

“We’re going to see if we can send some of the proceeds to animal organizations that help with the lost pets,” she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.