OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Charities providing relief to residents of tornado-ravaged neighborhoods in Moore and Oklahoma City are seeing an infusion of donations from around the country as Americans open up their pocketbooks to help people in the Sooner State.
Several of those charities also will likely see a boost in giving Wednesday when several country music stars with Oklahoma ties take to the stage at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in downtown Oklahoma City for a telethon, "Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert." Performers are scheduled to include Oklahoma native Blake Shelton and his Grammy Award-winning wife, Miranda Lambert, as well as Oklahoma natives Vince Gill and Reba McEntire. Also set to perform are Usher, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts.
The money raised through the telethon will go directly to the United Way of Central Oklahoma, which will distribute funding to partner agencies directly engaged in helping in relief and recovery efforts for those affected by the May 20 tornado, said Karla Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for the United Way of Central Oklahoma.
"Those are the ones that are dealing right now with the immediate needs," Bradshaw said.
Donations have poured in to Oklahoma since two major tornadoes ripped through the state last week, killing 26 people and affecting nearly 4,000 homes, businesses and other buildings in five counties. Twenty-four people, including 10 children, were killed in the May 20 tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
The Salvation Army reported Tuesday afternoon it already has raised more than $5 million in monetary donations, as well as in-kind food donations from numerous corporations.
A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army working in Moore said giving money is the best way people can help.
"At the moment our greatest need is to be flexible, and the best way people can help is with monetary donations," said Salvation Army spokeswoman Jennifer Dodd. "We spend that money locally to help energize the local economy ... and it allows us to spend it on items we need."
Dodd said many people are holding clothing drives to help benefit local residents, but that can pose problems for charities and other groups that might not have the room to store the items.
"Just the logistics of shipping a hundred pounds of clothing from across the country, it's terribly expensive and then you have to worry if you have space on the ground," Dodd said. "Right now, what we need to use our warehouse space and distribution network for is food and hydration products and things like that."