MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines serving with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and their families came together to help the victims of the tornadoes that devastated Moore, Okla., and Oklahoma City, during the week of May 20.
Staff Sgt. David Terryah, a platoon sergeant serving with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, brought a U-Haul truck and trailer filled with everything from children’s clothes to a sectional couch, to the smaller communities affected by the disaster.
“This is an amazing effort and show of Americans taking care of Americans,” said Terryah, a native of Fresno, Calif. “I know if Californians were in need we’d see the same response from the nation that we are seeing here today.”
The idea to bring donations to families in Oklahoma started from humble beginnings.
Terryah’s wife, Krystal, knew someone who would be driving through Oklahoma, and offered to fill any free space with donations for the victims.
When Krystal called Terryah, he was with Sgt. Phillip Whitener, his assistant platoon sergeant.
Helping out Oklahoma families hit close to home for Whitener.
“As I watched my children play, I thought how I would appreciate if somebody would help out if something happened to my community and my children had to go without a home things to wear,” said Whitener, a native of Polk County, Ark.
He called his office that afternoon and let them know he would visit the surrounding businesses throughout the San Clemente community asking for donations. Whitener’s wife, Christina, spread the word to the community through various social media websites, allowing Whitener to travel to collect donations.
Within minutes of posting word of the collection, neighbors arrived with donations at Whitener’s door. The donations would not slow down through the rest of the week.
“We eventually had to start bringing things into the office because I didn’t have enough space at my house anymore,” Whitener said.
During the weekend, Whitener’s community filled his garage, living room and driveway with donations such as clothes, pillows, blankets and toiletries.
“My wife called me and told me they were getting so many calls and so many donations,” said Terryah. “I started talking to my battalion, my family readiness officer and the commanding officer and they were all about doing everything they could to help out.”
Terryah enlisted the help of Marines with the battalion to collect, load and organize the donations. More than 20 military families were involved in the process.
Terryah left for Oklahoma and will also help with the debris removal.
While Moore, Okla., has made a majority of the headlines, many of the smaller towns do not qualify for Red Cross aid. These are the communities Terryah will reach out to on his journey. He contacted local churches and community centers in order to assist these towns.
“We are working to make sure these supplies get to the places that need them the most,” Terryah said.
Terryah will arrive at those communities in the coming days. His U-Haul truck is filled with supplies donated by Marines and their families with the battalion, Operation Help A Hero, Team 2/5 Rancho Santa Margarita, Freedom Riders, U-Haul, Walmart and the San Onofre military family community.
They hope the donations will offer some relief and show their support to the people of Oklahoma.