Last week, Memphis Grizzlies fan gathered at neighborhood bar Newby’s to watch their team take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals. One week later Grizzlies fans gathered at the same River City Bar, but in a totally different spirit — to help those impacted by the devastating Oklahoma tornadoes.
On Friday, dozens of volunteers descended on the bar, a block from the University of Memphis, to load an 18-wheeler filled with donations. Water, canned goods, sunscreen, bug spray, — these are just some of the items collected during the five-day drive led by Newby’s owner Todd Adams.
At least 24 people were killed with the tornadoes hit Moore and Oklahoma City, and about 2,400 homes damaged. When I heard news of the tornadoes hitting, I knew that we had to do something,” Todd says. The Memphis native got his start at Newby’s working as a bartender, and bought the bar in 1997. “I didn’t know how I could help the people of Oklahoma. But as I was getting ready to post an event to our Facebook page it hit me — I’d reach out to our social media network and ask everyone I knew for help.” So he did.
To make sure they gathered items most needed, he connected with Oklahoma City Journey Church, located near the heavily affected. Moore community. On-the-ground organizers give Todd up-to-the-minute updates on what items were most needed. Pallets of water, bags of dog food, packages of tarps began to arrive at Newby’s, along with volunteers offering to help.
“Memphis is a city with soul,” Todd says. “We’ve had people walk in and empty their change purses of all they have. And others who don’t have anything but have volunteered their time to help load the truck.”
Southerners give in time of need. We give food, a helping hand, a kind word. Hats off to Todd and the people of Memphis who are making a difference.
For more resources to help Oklahoma:
Toomer’s For Tuscaloosa: This Alabama-based non-profit mobilized in the aftermath of the 2011 tornadoes that devastated the South. Now a nationwide grassroots network, they reach out to communities in need. Visit their Facebook page for details on how to help with their Oklahoma relief.
Central Alabama Habitat For Humanity: Taking donations to help with long-term rebuilding efforts. Also accepts in-kind donations from companies able to provide building materials. Information here.