NJ Students Helping School With Same Name That Tornado Tore to Shreds in OK
After a student saw images of the destruction at Shawnee High School in Oklahoma caused by an EF-2 tornado with winds between 130-135 MPH, the principal of Shawnee High School in Medford, New Jersey, reached out with an offer of help.
The Shawnee tornado, one of 13 tornadoes confirmed in central Oklahoma, cut a 15-mile path on April 19, according to the Norman, Oklahoma National Weather Service office. It damaged 1,800 buildings and destroyed much of the roof at Shawnee High School forcing classes to go remote for the remained of the academic year.
New Jersey junior Ben Barclay reached out to Principal Matt Campbell wanting to help with their Oklahoma namesake over 1,400 miles away.
"Over the past number of years, we've gotten mixed communications because we're one of two Shawnee high schools in the United States. We've had this connection, whether we realized it or not, that sometimes we would get calls or emails for things meant for people in Oklahoma," Campbell said.
Email from one Shawnee to another
Campbell sent an email to principal Matt Johnson at the Oklahoma school letting them know they would like to hold a donation drive to gather donations of supplies for residents.
"I wasn't sure if he was going to have access to internet or whatever electricity based upon the destruction that we saw. And then he did reply," Campbell said.
Oklahoma TV station KWTV posted Campbell's email in a brief story on its website, which also got a response.
"I got some random email last night from a woman in Oklahoma just saying, 'We really appreciate you, I really appreciate you reaching out to my community,'" Campbell said.
Campbell, Johnson, and Barclay are working out the logistics of a drive and hope to begin accepting donations of supplies on Monday. Campbell is concerned about how to get donations to Oklahoma and may use Amazon Storefront to collect monetary donations, which would allow Johnson to purchase what is really needed.
Seven tornadoes were confirmed in New Jersey on April 1 tying a record set in 1989.