CU students serve Moore for Service Saturday

Picking up the pieces: A volunteer pours paint to help in the rebuilding of Moore, Okla., after the EF5 tornado that destroyed part of the town last May. CU students and alumi joined together for Service Saturday to lend a hand.

Picking up the pieces: A volunteer pours paint to help in the rebuilding of Moore, Okla., after the EF5 tornado that destroyed part of the town last May. CU students and alumi joined together for Service Saturday to lend a hand.

Sadie Jones

A&E Editor

On May 20, 2013, Moore, Okla., faced tragedy head-on as an EF5 tornado swept through the town and left behind numerous wrecked homes, schools, property, businesses and lives. At 7 a.m. Nov. 2, Cameron University students and alumni partnered together for Service Saturday and headed to Moore to pick up the pieces.

Director of Alumni Relations Jennifer McGrail said the CU Alumni Association — an organization whose purpose is to keep graduates connected to CU and to help to make the university stronger — introduced a new group to Cameron last year called Aggie G.O.L.D. (Graduates Of the Last Decade).

Head of Aggie G.O.L.D. is Amanda Finch, a 2010 CU graduate who now lives in Arkansas. Two other board members and six CU alumni assist her in planning events – such as the trip to Moore – for the newfound organization.

“The Alumni Association wanted to participate in an Oklahoma Recovery Service Day,” McGrail said. “So they decided to partner with the new group Aggie G.O.L.D. and the Student Activities organization to come up with a Cameron community-wide service day.”

The group partnered with grassroots organization — “Serve Moore” —formed after the tornadoes took place. The organization assigned different projects for the volunteers.

“There were three or four other groups there the same day we were,” McGrail said. “Depending on the number of volunteers and their skill level, ‘Serve Moore’ makes a list of different projects that can be completed and sends volunteers out with all the supplies. They provided us with everything we needed.”

McGrail said she was pleased with the turnout. Once they arrived in Moore, participants divided into groups and worked on two different projects within the community.

Half of the group painted bleachers and the concession stand for the Moore Athletics Complex. The other group was asked to help build fences for families.

“We ended up with 27 participants,” McGrail said. “And a little more than half of the volunteers were alumni and friends of alumni — we also had a small group of CU students ride up with us.”

The Cameron group worked up close with the people in Moore; McGrail described the experience as rewarding.

“While we were there, an elementary school football game was going on at the complex,” McGrail said. “There was a memorial tribute for one of the students who had lost his life.  Kids had left notes, stuffed animals and t-shirts at his memorial.  Being able to help both a family and the entire community during their youth athletics event is something that I think we all enjoyed being able to do — being able to see that helped remind us why we decided to volunteer in the first place.”

Some who volunteered with CU understood the impact of the tornado tragedy — because they lived through it.

“We have alumni in the Oklahoma City and Moore area, so we want to make sure we reach out to our Cameron family,” McGrail said. “I saw the devastation about two days after it happened. Being able to go back now and see where they’ve been able to rebuild — and to be a part of helping — it’s something that’s good for us to do as a Cameron family and show our support for the rest of the state.”

The Service Saturday in Moore only marked the beginning of many more events to come.

“Aggie G.O.L.D. definitely wants to keep the service on the radar,” McGrail said. “So we’ll definitely be working on planning more service activities.”

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