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Erin Engelke helps through Feed the Children

Related Stories/Videos:
  • Jason Leger shares his experience of devastation and hope
  • Jennifer Simonds shares about the tornado hitting Plaza Towers Elementary
  • More tornado testimonials

    The days and weeks following the May tornadoes were a blur. Working for one of the nation’s largest international and relief agencies, Feed The Children, required around-the-clock attention to ensure we were able to respond to the devastation.

    But between the onslaught of media calls, interviews with media outlets around the country, setting up donation sites and fielding calls from compassionate donors across the United States, I found myself in awe of the spirit of help that comes together, at a moment’s notice, when perfect strangers need it.

    My work took me directly into the neighborhoods that, in a few short moments, looked more like war zones rather than places where children once rode their bikes, where barbecues happened in backyards, and where memories were made.

    I had the incredible privilege of working alongside and witnessing big acts of kindness from celebrities, including NFL players Kenny Stills and Wes Welker, and NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson, as we cleaned up debris and distributed relief supplies to families.

    I also witnessed small acts of kindness from children and families who will never make the headlines: a young girl and her brother who collected more than 1,000 teddy bears and personally drove them from Pennsylvania to deliver to the children who lost everything; and a single mother, her 10-year-old daughter, and 8-year-old son with Down’s Syndrome, who set up a lemonade stand (along with 50 others across Oklahoma City) to raise money in support of tornado recovery.

    Most memorable were the humble spirits I encountered with two teachers from Plaza Towers and Briarwood elementary schools as they traveled with me to the Feed The Children 300 NASCAR race in Kentucky, where we recognized them for their heroic efforts to save the lives of children that fateful day in Moore.

    I’m honored to work for Feed The Children, knowing their dedication to improving the lives of so many each day, and I’m thankful for the small part I can play in that mission.

    By Erin (Richards 00) Engelke
    Vice President of Communications, Feed the Children