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November 14, 2013

New nonprofit foundation provides concrete solutions for schools

NORMAN — Moore is among four districts to receive money from Shelter Oklahoma Schools, a nonprofit formed to help schools build tornado safe rooms. A rural school near Chickasha already received $25,000 through the organization.

Moore will receive $500,000 on Dec. 9, said SOS co-founder Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore.

Shelter Oklahoma Schools was created in May following tornadoes that hit Oklahoma and killed seven children at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore. McBride — along with Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, and local business leader John Hunt — created the nonprofit.

“Rep. Echols and I were there when they determined there were still some children in the rubble at Plaza Towers,” McBride said. “We had been at Briarwood and then went to Plaza Towers. A firefighter friend came up and told us what was going on.”

The May 20 tornado killed 24 people and injured at least 100 others in the Moore and Oklahoma City area as it cut a 17-mile long path that started in Newcastle and ended at Lake Stanley Draper. Fourteen miles of that destructive path were through Moore.

“This is such an important mission for us,” Hunt said during a May press conference at the state Capitol. “Once we learned of the tragedy in Moore, we wanted to help. We thought the best route would be to start a fund to get shelters into schools.”

McBride also felt strongly. He has experienced the death of a son and wanted to prevent the further loss of lives.

“The legislative process takes so much time, Rep. Echols and I were trying to think of something we could do right now, so we came up with this idea,” McBride said.

Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge donated $200,000 in seed money, and Apache Corporation gave $500,000 designated for Moore schools. Other donations followed.

“We were looking for a private sector solution to a problem,” McBride said. “Legislatively, we have been in talks with the governor’s office. A year ago, the lieutenant governor had a task force to look at security in case of a school shooting. Now, what we’re trying to do together is come out with the best thing for safety and security.”

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