NORMAN — Rebecca Burns and her family lost many of their material possessions in the tornado that struck Moore on May 20.
They lost their home and plan to rebuild in the same location. Until then, they are living in a rented house, Burns said. She and her husband are looking for employment after they lost their jobs in the fall.
But one thing Burns has not lost is an unwavering hope that her family's situation will improve.
“There's always a light at the end of the tunnel,” said the mother of four. “Everything happens for a reason. You just pick up and go on.”
That hope and optimism were reinforced this month when she visited the J.D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities.
Burns — whose daughter receives outpatient services — was given donated food, toys and toiletries through the center's Outpatient Family Christmas Program.
The annual program is organized by the hospital's therapy department to offer extra help to families during the holiday season. Burns said she appreciates the gifts and goodwill shown to her family by the hospital employees.
“It makes you feel like there are people out there that actually want to help, and they care if you have a Christmas,” she said.
The Burns family was one of nine that received donations through the outpatient Christmas program this year, said Chrissy Hancock, a speech and language pathologist and chairwoman of the committee that coordinates the program.
The donations include food for a Christmas dinner, toys, toiletries, books, mittens, gloves and hats. The items are provided by hospital employees, community members and area businesses.
Families eligible for the program are those whose children use the hospital's outpatient services. Families are then nominated by hospital staff for the donations.
JenniLynn Paton and her family also received items from the program, and she said she is grateful for the gifts and the kindness shown to them.
“My family is one of the families blessed by this program, and we are very thankful to be part of the J.D. McCarty family,” Paton said.
The outpatient Christmas program is in its seventh year and has helped nearly 50 families.
Hancock said she enjoys helping with the program because it benefits the entire family.
“We want to show our patients that we care about them beyond the hospital,” Hancock said. “Our outpatients are a big part of our services — and what we do, and who we are.”
The McCarty Center provides medical care and physical, occupational, speech and language therapy for children on an inpatient and outpatient basis. It serves children from birth to age 21.
Greg Gaston is director of communications for the J.D. McCarty Center.