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May 8, 2014

New website to help raise money for safe rooms

NORMAN — A new website, supportOKSchools.com, is raising money for safe rooms as Oklahoma approaches the anniversary of a day many would like to forget.

Website founder Justin Williams said he can’t let people forget, and now more than ever, residents need to support the state by donating funds to safe rooms.

Williams, who works for Verizon, helped with disaster relief after the May 20 tornadoes in Moore.

Williams said with three children himself, it broke his heart to see the suffering of Oklahoma families who lost children in the disaster.

As time marches on, Williams said he doesn’t want people to forget how hard it was to recover and to realize safe rooms still are needed in many Oklahoma schools.

After using garage sale groups on Facebook, Williams had an idea for his own website that would function like Craigslist, while providing sellers the opportunity to help Oklahoma schools build safe rooms.

In the Oklahoma City area, there are more than 60 Facebook garage sale groups with about 180,000 members. Williams said if those members would start listing with supportOKSchools.com, the volume of sales would quickly bring in money to schools.

With zeal and dedication, Williams and a computer programmer from Seattle worked to have the website ready to launch before the May 20 tornado anniversary. Now live, after launching last week, sellers can move items to buyers while donating a portion of each sale to Oklahoma schools.

Shelter Oklahoma Schools, shelteroklahomaschools.org, has partnered with supportOKSchools.com and will manage and disperse funds that are brought in from the website.

Sellers who list items on the site can pick the percentage of proceeds they want to be donated, as well as which Oklahoma school should receive the donation.

“We’ve contacted every Oklahoma school to find out if they have an adequate tornado shelter,” Williams said. “If a school already has a tornado shelter, then donated funds will go directly into the school’s monthly classroom fund to help pay for teaching supplies.”

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