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Baptist Church In Oklahoma Churns Out Meals For Victims


Hundreds of volunteers have come to Moore, Okla., this week to help the community after Monday's deadly tornado. Some people are cleaning debris, others are bringing out water and supplies to people whose lives have been turned upside down. NPR's Kirk Siegler stopped by one volunteer-powered relief group that's working east of town.


KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: About a mile from where the tornado flattened whole neighborhoods, the sprawling campus of the First Baptist Church has been transformed into a donation clearing house.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: How many do we need? We got enough right here?

SIEGLER: One corner of the parking lot under the shade of a tarp, Jack White of Elk City, Oklahoma, stacks 25-pound containers of meals and bottled water four high.

JACK WHITE: Every time there's something bad, that always brings something good out of it, you know.

SIEGLER: At 74, White loves the hard work, volunteering for Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief which brings mobile kitchens, trucks, handymen crews from one natural disaster to the next.

WHITE: You know, people comes up and asks us, they say, you mean you're not getting paid for this? You know, how much are you getting paid for doing this? Nothing. I say, yeah, it's for the glory of God.

SIEGLER: These volunteers have two clear missions: Spread the gospel and help out a lot of people in need. Teamwork is impressive. There's six convection ovens and skillets baking meatloaf demand, and there's a huge trough of boiling hot water which is being scooped into a red plastic box where it's mixed with soup powder.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: You should have been here yesterday. A hot day here for a while.

SIEGLER: Steve Boone is the blue-capped leader of this operation. He says Oklahoma Baptists are churning out 10,000 meals a day from this kitchen. They can do up to 30,000 but Boone doesn't think they'll need to, mainly because the May 20th tornado hit in a metropolitan area and a lot of restaurants and stores are still open and a lot of people are donating food.

STEVE BOONE: Here in Oklahoma, everybody's real giving and they want to take care of themselves, they want to take care of their neighbors, they want to take care of their family.

SIEGLER: But Boone's team still has its work cut out for them. He says they'll cook most of the meals paid for and distributed by the Red Cross in Moore. That food is being trucked to shelters, but occasionally somebody stops by and you can bet they won't leave hungry.


NANCY MALONE: We're taking advantage of the free stuff now. It's here, they want to help. Thank you. Thank you.

SIEGLER: Nancy Malone was picking up a crate of dinners and cups of frozen yogurt to take to her family who lost pretty much everything. She says money's getting low. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Oklahoma City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.
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