GREENSBURG — Shelly Walsman has traveled the world as a missionary.
A member of the First Christian Church of Greensburg, she and her husband Tim have ministered to people in Nicaragua, Haiti and Jamaica.
Come January, they’ll be in Africa.
Before she visits the world’s largest continent though, to feed and minister to the needy half a world away, Walsman has accepted another critical mission right here, on the continent she calls home, to provide badly needed relief to fellow Americans.
On July 7, she and her husband, along with Cindy and Mike Schoettmer, also of First Christian, will set off with a group of 20 or so from the church, headed for Oklahoma City. They’ll be taking a semi-truck with them, which they hope to load to capacity with critical goods people in the area need to rebuild following a devastating series of tornados in May.
Walsman visited the Daily News last week to promote the upcoming trip to Oklahoma and talk about what items they’re hoping to collect for their semi-truck.
“We’re accepting pretty much anything and everything,” she said.
The idea got started May 22, on the Walsman’s wedding anniversary.
“We had dinner that night with Cindy and Mike,” she explained, “and we started talking about the Oklahoma tornados and how we should do something to help.”
By May 23, Walsman continued, she’d contacted Cherokee Hills Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, which is working on relief efforts in the area with Antioch Christian Church.
“They welcomed our help,” Walsman said.
Walsman anticipates arriving in Oklahoma City sometime on July 8. She and her group will spend their days working in Moore, Okla., one of the hardest-hit areas by the May storms, and will be sleeping at Cherokee Hills. A local Gold’s Gym has offered to allow the group to shower at that facility.
“The people there,” Walsman said, “they’ve just been devastated by this. It’s still an absolute mess there. They need pretty-much everything.”
Making matters worse, according to information she’s read and received many residents in the area were underinsured, meaning there are huge financial losses involved, too.
“They’re really still just in the clean-up phase,” Walsman added. “I’m sure we’ll be doing lots of debris cleanup. I’m sure we’ll be helping with minor repairs and sorting, too. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up helping with roofing work.”
Walsman said the trip is important not only because of the need, but also because a storm like the ones that hit Oklahoma could happen here.
“I look at all the damage and devastation out there,” she said, “and I think, ‘what if that happened here? What if it was us?’ Imagine if our town was the one that got leveled – it could happen – and what if we couldn’t fix it ourselves? Wouldn’t we want others around the country to come help us pick up the pieces and put our lives back together?”
Walsman provided the Daily News with a prospective list of items with which they’re hoping to fill their semi-truck (which has been donated by Crum Trucking).
The list includes: Brooms, cleaning supplies, Visine, contact lens solution, insect spray, Febreeze, manual can openers, tape guns, tools, hammers, nails, peroxide, band aids, gauze, rubbing alcohol, over the counter meds, baby food and formula, bottles, diapers, wash cloths, work boots and gloves, protective eyewear, packing and storage boxes and tape, shovels, duct tape, rakes, wheel barrows, new socks and underwear, plastic totes flash lights, batteries, dust masks, hand sanitizer, sun screen, pre-packaged snacks and ice chests.
Walsman’s list doesn’t end there.
“We’re also hoping to receive some bigger items,” she said. “If you’ve got an old lawnmower, a weed eater or an old washer and/or dryer and they’re still usable, please don’t hesitate to donate them. We can certainly make room for them on the truck.”
Walsman and the First Christian Church of Greensburg Oklahoma Tornado Relief Committee will hold three donation drives at the church, 425 N Broadway Street, before embarking on their relief mission. Those drives will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., June 27 (today), from 12 to 4 p.m., June 29, and from 5 to 7 p.m., July 3.
The group still has room in their van for anyone who might be interested in making the trip to Oklahoma and helping out on site.
The First Christian Church of Greensburg’s Oklahoma Tornado Relief Caravan leaves July 7 and will embark for the trip back to Greensburg on July 11.
For more information, call the church at 663-8488.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011