Topekans help tornado victims in Oklahoma

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They may be about 300 miles away from Moore, but people in Topeka are doing their part to support the victims of the deadly tornado.

The terror in Oklahoma hits close to home for Stephanie West.

“I’m from southeast Kansas so I’m really close to Joplin, so when the Joplin tornado hit it really affected everyone in my family and everyone in the area,” West says.

Two years later, she’s doing what she can to help others facing destruction.

“As soon as I saw everything happen last night I knew that I had to donate blood,” West adds.

The help doesn’t stop at the blood drive at the West Ridge Mall. At Topeka’s Red Cross Chapter, two volunteers head to the Sooner State.

“We’re driving the ERV, emergency response vehicle down to the area and, which is the primary job, feeding, we’re providing client workshop areas, a command post or hauling supplies,” says volunteer Jerry McVey.

This is McVey’s first disaster deployment.

“I’ve been watching the TV all day yesterday after it happened, and it’s pretty devastating,” McVey says.

If you’re not a Red Cross volunteer, officials say the best way to help is to donate cash.

“I did the basic text the number, I did that, but I knew that this something I could do immediately,” West says about donating blood.

Director of Communications for the Kansas Capital Area Chapter Red Cross, Meghan Spreer, says there’s always a need for blood.

“We love when people make blood donations and one donation can save up to three lives,” Spreer adds.

Whether it’s a cash or blood donation, or both, West says it’s the message that matters.

“We’re all family in the Midwest,” she says, “We all know that this could happen here at any time, and, so knowing that, why would you not want to help and do everything you can to help someone that could be you one day?”

The Red Cross Chapter in Topeka is hosting a blood drive Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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