That wildfire pales in comparison to the losses from this summer’s wildfires in eastern Cleveland County, less than three miles from the Brown’s store. “If the wind had changed, we’d have lost everything,” said Jim, a former Slaughterville volunteer firefighter.
In a typical year, they will help about 40 families with household goods, kitchen items, appliances, bedding and clothing. This year, they’ve helped 108 to date.
“It was so serious. The numbers were just unbelievable,” said Annette. “This year has been our biggest ever in 26 years.”
Community response has been strong, too. Store customers often drop cash and checks in a jar on the counter. Donors show up with appliances, dishes, silverware, microwaves and cash. Money comes to their non-profit Maguire Community Foundation at 9551 E. Maguire Road, Noble, OK 73068.
“We didn’t turn anybody down. If we ran out, we had the funds this time to buy brand new,” said Annette. “I just love it when I can hand them something brand new.”
n n n
The fires impacted the Brown’s store, too. Some of the nearly 140 families burned out by the fires ended up moving. Many were customers. Insurance and FEMA delays have pushed some to pull up what’s left and move. The emotional losses have mounted, too.
“I’ll bet some of them don’t come back,” said Jim. “We saw it in Bridge Creek with the tornadoes. It was just too much trauma for some of them to move back.”
The year’s drought, tornadoes and fires haven’t dampened the couple’s passion for helping others. In an odd way, it seems to have made them more determined to help the less fortunate.
Volunteers will deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve and then be at home with their own families. Some have been helping for years, making the group home gifts part of their own family traditions.
“You get so much from helping others,” said Annette. “Really, this is the best thing we’ve ever done in our lives.”