The Norman Transcript

Local news

August 21, 2013

Plaza Towers families pledge support to school shelter nonprofit

MOORE — Families of Plaza Towers victims came together Tuesday on the three-month anniversary of the devastating tornado that took the lives of their children.

The families were at First Baptist Church in Moore in support of Shelter Oklahoma Schools, a private organization set up by state Reps. Mark McBride and Jon Echols.

“We’re here today to announce that these families have pledged their support. But not just their support — their work, their spirit, their heart,” Echols said. “They’ve actually done the work to help this organization.”

Echols said after he and McBride were on the scene at Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools the night the tornado hit, seeing the loss of life and the problems at hand made them want to set up Shelter Oklahoma Schools.

The nonprofit organization collects donations with the goal of getting more storm shelters in Oklahoma schools. Its focus is to make schools safer for students when severe weather hits.

Antonia Candelaria, 9, was one of the children killed by the May 20 tornado. Her mother, Brandie Candelaria, said her other daughter, Trinity, who was in fourth grade at the time, also was at the school when the storm hit.

After everything Trinity has been through, seeing all of her friends go through this, getting pulled out of the rubble and not having her sister come home made Brandie want to support Shelter Oklahoma Schools.

“We dropped two little girls off that day and only one came home,” she said. “(A school) is a place where they’re supposed to be safe and feel safe.”

Candelaria said they are also trying to keep other families from experiencing the same loss.

With Trinity going into fifth grade, having a 7-month-old child with another child on the way, Brandie wants to know her kids will be safe.

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