MOORE — Support for Shelter Oklahoma Schools is growing with each passing week, as companies and groups join together to help with the quest of building shelters for every school in the state.
With the help of Shelter Oklahoma Schools and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, a rural school will move ahead with plans to build a storm shelter to protect its school-aged children.
Friend School, located a few miles northeast of Chickasha, has been raising funds for a shelter via a walk-a-thon. That effort raised approximately $27,000. Last week, Shelter Oklahoma Schools announced it was receiving a $100,000 donation from the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, in association with the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, with $25,000 of that going to Friend School. That donation, coupled with the amount raised from the walk-a-thon, means Friend can proceed with its shelter project, estimated to cost approximately $50,000.
Rep. Scott Biggs met with Shelter Oklahoma Schools and secured the $25,000 in matching funds to help complete funding for the project.
“Friend School had a goal of reaching $50,000 to pay for construction of a storm shelter for their school,” said Rep. Biggs, R-Chickasha. “This school is right in the path of some of the most dangerous storms in our state’s history. Knowing that they will be constructing a facility to be ready by next spring is a great step in the right direction.”
The school sits 150 yards from the path of a tornado that ripped through that small community in May 2011. The school, which has 223 students and 31 faculty members, looks to start construction on the shelter on Friday with an anticipated completion in March 2014.
“I’m very impressed with this school and the volunteers who started raising funds on their own and worked toward addressing a need their school had,” Rep. Biggs said. “They’ve put a lot of hard work into raising funds for their shelter project and I’m honored I was able to help them reach their fundraising goal.
“The Shelter Oklahoma Schools project has only been around a few months and it is already producing results. Their stated goal is to fundraise to assist in the construction of storm shelters. In a very short time span, this project has raised millions of dollars, which is going directly toward assisting school districts in their quest to keep our children safe come storm season.”
“This project has continued to generate interest and attention to the goal of building a safe room or storm shelter in every school in the state,” said state Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “The support we’ve received so far has been amazing and this generous donation from the Farm Bureau will help to keep this project going strong.”
While Moore has been the focus of this project after the devastating tornado hit in May, this initiative is for the entire state, said state Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore.
“This donation from the Farm Bureau just goes to show how important this project is to rural communities across the state,” Rep. McBride said. “This is not an urban vs. rural deal here. Shelter Oklahoma Schools is for all Oklahomans, and we’re happy to have a great partner such as the Oklahoma Farm Bureau support this venture to bring safety and security to schools from Broken Bow to Guymon.”