TORNADO RELIEF TOY DRIVE
Sam Houston State - Zeta Mu
By Reece O'Donnell, '13 Jan 18, 2016
On Saturday, the day after Christmas, an EF 4 tornado ripped through the North Texas towns of Rowlett, Sunnydale and Garland. It was a devastating tornado that left over 300 homes destroyed. We have brothers who are from those communities. The Zeta Mu chapter began discussing the event of the tornado and how we could help. Ideas began being tossed around on Sunday night, and by the next morning we had a tent set up accepting donations for relief.
Our “Tornado Relief Toy Drive” accepted any and all donations including clothes, food, toys, toiletries and cash. Beginning December 28, we stood out by our tent seven hours each day for four days accepting donations. It was incredible to witness the willingness of a handful of guys to spend their time and resources to help out the community that their brothers call home. Other organizations and local officials gave a tremendous amount of support including University President, Dana Hoyt, and Huntsville former mayor Mac Woodward, who is also an alumnus of the Zeta Mu chapter. The local newspaper and radio stations publicized our efforts too, helping spread our message to thousands of residents around the area. By Tuesday we were featured on the front page of the Huntsville newspaper.
We did not expect the overwhelming amount of support we received. By the end of the week we had received $900 and enough donations to pack a 20-foot U-Haul trailer. We are grateful for everyone who supported and shared our Toy Drive on social media and by word of mouth. Incredibly, donations included an Android Tablet and PlayStation 3 devices.
On January 3 several brothers loaded the U-Haul trailer and drove to Rowlett to personally deliver the donations. It was a great feeling knowing that college students 250 miles away could make an impact in the lives of those affected by the tornado. The greatest part of the day came when we were able to surprise a mother of four, whose husband died in the tornado, with a $600 donation. It was a life-changing experience to see the impact our donation made on her.
All of us involved will never lose the memory of the lives we were able to touch. Alpha Tau Omega has provided us with a platform to glorify God and make a difference. This recovery effort to support North Texas tornado victims was an amazing experience, and I am proud of my chapter for seizing the opportunity.