Shalom Life | April 21, 2014

Jewish Federations Partner with Catholic Charities on Relief Supplies for Oklahoma Tornado Victims

JFNA Collects Over $400,000 For Oklahoma Relief Efforts

By: Cynthia Mann

Published: May 30th, 2013 in News » World

Jewish Federations Partner with Catholic Charities on Relief Supplies for Oklahoma Tornado Victims

The Jewish Federations of North America is partnering with Catholic Charities to manage a distribution site for relief supplies in Norman, OK, for residents hit by last week’s devastating tornado. That is only part of the wider Jewish Federations relief effort that so far has raised some $415,000 in donations both to JFNA and in direct support to the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.

A mile-wide tornado tore through Moore, OK, a suburb of Oklahoma City, last week, killing 24 people and wiping out many homes, businesses and institutions. Federations across the continent are enhancing the JFNA relief efforts with their own campaigns supporting the Oklahoma City Federation’s efforts.

While JFNA typically encourages monetary donations for disaster relief, this disaster has spurred a call for a variety of supplies. Items that will be particularly helpful include: hygiene kits (with soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, etc.), gloves, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, large containers with lids - such as Rubbermaid bins, rakes and shovels and other tools, garbage bags, large plastic closable bags and bungee cords to keep containers closed. These goods can be mailed to:

All Saints Catholic School, 4001 36th Ave. NW, Norman, OK 73072

Meanwhile, philanthropist Foster Friess has sent $250,000 through the National Christian Foundation directly to the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, among other organizations, to help victims of the tornado. The Federation already has projects planned for some of the funds, though Edie Roodman, the Federation executive director, said an ongoing needs assessment will help determine which projects get carried out.

The Federation will purchase and distribute gift cards of between $25 and $100 to families in neighborhoods in Moore, so they can get “the necessities to begin building back their lives,” Roodman said.

The Federation also intends to partner with Oklahoma City Beautiful and the Moore Parks and Recreation Department to repair and rebuild the parks that have been destroyed. Roodman also plans for the Federation to collaborate with the Moore Public Schools Foundation Board to help build at least two playgrounds at two schools flattened by the deadly storm.

“We want to heal hearts and renew spirits,” said Roodman. “Children have to get back to play."

Roodman added the Federation will consider helping the schools create sustainable gardens. She is also planning to ask a local organic farmer, who went last year on a Federation-led agricultural mission to Israel, to collaborate with the director of Oklahoma City Beautiful, who was on the same mission, to plant trees at the schools in Moore.

“Planting trees is so significant in Jewish life,” said Roodman. “It signifies rebirth and renewal and repair, all of which we are called to do in response to this kind of destruction. It affirms life and that is central to our tradition.”

Longer-term Federation plans include a continuing partnership with Habitat for Humanity, she added.

The Federation, meanwhile, is helping coordinate volunteers with two different agencies: IsraAID, or the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, which responds to disasters around the globe; and Nechama, an organization that trains and equips volunteers to respond to natural disasters. Both groups have sent members who are on the ground in Oklahoma.

This Sunday, the Federation is helping organize a community-wide volunteer clean-up coordinated by the city of Moore, Roodman added. More details can be found on the Federation’s website: www.jfedokc.org.

To donate online to the JFNA Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund, click here. To mail your donation, please send it to:

The JFNA Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund

c/o The Jewish Federations of North America

Wall Street Station

PO Box 157

New York, NY 10268

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