No one sent them a memo, they just stepped up
Published: May 22nd, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – Nobody had to send a memo from the government. No one issued an edict to give.
They just did. When disaster or tragedy happens hereabouts, we Okies step in to help. Kochs, Kaiser, Kevin and the Krewe: Oklahomans – for that matter, many Americans – are generous.
So, what do the Koch Brothers, Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, NBA superstar Kevin (Durant) and a cadre of kindred souls have in common?
And, what about Continental Resources, Devon Energy, Crossings Community Church, Cox Enterprises – not to mention Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Apache Energy and ONEOK in the Sooner State, as well as and international titans like Conoco, and Phillips?
No, it’s not alliteration – in the case of all those “Ks” and hard “Cs” – or a significant corporate presence in Oklahoma.
It’s this: In the past two days, a wave of businesses or individuals have sent $1 million or more to assist credible state and local charities organizing recovery from the devastation of Monday afternoon’s F-5 tornado.
Continental and Devon each announced Tuesday (May 21) gifts of $1 million to the American Red Cross for Oklahoma Relief. Separately, each announced another $1.5 million for future community needs in response to Monday’s destructive tornado that ripped for 20 miles across south Oklahoma City and Moore.
Koch Industries is sending $1 million — half to the Oklahoma Strong Disaster Relief Fund Gov. Mary Fallin began in cooperation with the United Way of Central Oklahoma, and half to The Salvation Army and Red Cross. Separately, Koch affiliate Georgia-Pacific sent six truckloads of products to the region for displaced families.
Kaiser’s family foundation dropped an extra $100,000 into the Tulsa Community Foundation he regularly supports — and that foundation pledged $1 million for mid-to-long-term relief in Moore and Shawnee.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation gave $1 million to the Red Cross, and organized employees through “Operation Blue” (started by founder/former CEO Aubrey McClendon to facilitate employee volunteer hours) to help with the relief programs.
Tulsa energy producer ONEOK kicked in $750,000 to relief groups, another $250,000 is for a trust fund from which resources will be drawn to match, on a 2-1 basis, employee gifts. Apache Energy is another major donor. Conoco and Phillips both contributed in big ways.
Not only energy titans are pulling from the bottom line in a time of particular need.
The Oklahoma City Thunder pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross. Simultaneously, new favorite son Kevin Durant (Kevin Durant Foundation) dropped in $1 million of his own. The National Basketball Association and the players union chipped in another million.
There are no signs of complacency. At noon Wednesday (May 22), Inasmuch Foundation and the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation laid out a $2 million grant to United Way of Central Oklahoma.
Cox Enterprises and its affiliated foundation sent $500,000 to the Red Cross; another $500,000 in-kind support will support relief operations.
Churches throughout Oklahoma, the region and the nation are already giving. Crossings Community here in Oklahoma City had members and staff “on the ground” Monday evening. They quickly figured out, as they said in a press release May 22, there were huge financial needs, as well.
Crossings will contribute $1.2 million for relief, saying, “This is given as a result of the overwhelming love Christ has for His people. As Christ has rebuilt our lives, we believe He has called us to serve others in the same way.”
From the first moment the tornado began to shred homes and businesses, people have been going online or using their smart phones or the U.S. mail to help. Locals began taking water and toiletries to the Salvation Army or the Chabad Community Center; giving blood or contributing to Baptist Disaster Relief and other groups.
No one can put a full value on all this, but cash values for all the foregoing are headed toward $100 million.
Wednesday, the Oklahoma Legislature began a process to lift $45 million out of the Rainy Day Fund to finance state government spending on relief in Moore and Shawnee, and in smaller towns shredded by storms earlier this spring.
The feds are rolling in – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napalitano was in Moore on Wednesday; and Sunday will bring a visit from President Barack Obama.
Even in the age of the Internet and Big Government, political and governmental answers are no substitute for direct personal responses from neighbors, friends, co-workers and local businesses.
What we owe to poor, the hurting, the mourning and the afflicted is what we owe to each other – respect, responsiveness, responsibility, mutuality, dignity. Those debts are paid, or not, in daily living, in our treatment of family, neighbors, and fellow citizens.
The best way to honor one another is to use our own resources, time and energy for causes in which we believe. Shifting the burden to government is a formula for detachment, and failure.
Describing these burdens in this way is not false piety, for these things are central to good citizenship, neighborliness and fulfillment of that which we owe to the One who made us.
You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan at and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.