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April 28, 2014

Long-time Norman preschool raises funds for tornado shelter

NORMAN — The children and parents at Pumpkin Shell School are raising funds to build a storm shelter to keep the more than 60 young students safe in case a tornado were to hit Norman.

There has been much talk over the past year about building storm shelters for public schools. But there also are thousands of kids attending daycares and preschools in Norman every day — and parents are equally eager to keep those youngsters safe.

“What happened last year in Moore and Oklahoma City has changed how even lifelong Oklahomans look at tornado safety,” said Angela Hughes, a Pumpkin Shell parent and the shelter committee chairwoman. “These storms are unpredictable and powerful, and as a mother I just want to make sure our children are safe.”

The Pumpkin Shell School, a preschool that has been teaching 2 to 6-year-olds since 1984 in Norman, is planning on building two underground storm shelters at their location on University Boulevard in May to make sure the students are safe and sound if a tornado touches down in Norman.

The preschool needs to raise $7,000 for the two large shelters by May 7 to be able to confirm their May construction date with the contractor.

The contractor, an Oklahoma-based business, worked to fit them in early in their construction schedule, which is busy this time of the year.

Many parents, teachers and grandchildren have already contributed. Now the Pumpkin Shell School parents hope that the community as well as alumni and friends of the preschool will support them with a donation.

“Every amount helps,” Hughes said. “We are fortunate to have motivated families that can provide financial help for Pumpkin Shell since the state cannot find a funding mechanism. I just wish all daycares and schools had alumni, friends and families that could contribute to these important projects. Achieving this goal is security money can buy.”

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