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Moore day care plans to reopen just weeks after tornado

After the May 20 tornado damaged one day care, workers and parents alike are donating money and effort to help get the center back together.
BY HILLARY MCLAIN Published: June 5, 2013

For one day care, the weeks following the May 20 tornado — and the “miracle” that no one in the building was injured — have been about nonstop rebuilding efforts and returning to normalcy.

Agapeland Learning Center, which services families from both Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools, was in the middle of the path of destruction.

Arriving immediately after the tornado, day care Director Memory Taylor said she was amazed that every person in the center was accounted for, and barely a scratch was found.

“I looked up and I saw that 7-Eleven was completely gone and I thought ‘If it took that, there's no way — how could this place even be standing?' And it was,” she said.

Taylor estimates 36 children, teachers and parents were in the building during the storm.

Now in the process of getting back in business, Taylor said she hopes to have the new location, an Oklahoma Community Church building, open by Monday.

The Save the Children Fund provided the day care with a $20,000 grant and brought a team to Moore to get the new building ready for children.

The grant will go to replace toys and furniture, much of which was ruined in the storm.

Facebook also has played a major part in the rejuvenation of the business. Andrea Baird's daughter survived the storm at the day care, and now is using the social networking site to give back.

Baird created the group “Aid for the Agapeland Heroes” to raise money and supplies for the teachers at the center. More than 1,000 people, from Florida, Tennessee and further, have joined the group.

Donations have ranged from money to help pay teachers while their jobs are in limbo, to food supplies, toys and bottles, Baird said.

“What I had really wanted to do would be to raise enough money to replace three weeks of paychecks that these women are missing,” she said.

Baird's daughter, Aria, was in the building during the tornado, and was saved from being sucked up by the storm by Assistant Director Cathy Wilson.

“I feel like it was just a miracle,” Baird said. “I am so thankful and grateful for the ladies that took care of them and I know that any of them would do the same thing.”

Baird wasn't the only mother appreciative of the quick thinking of the teachers. Two of Taylor's own children also were in the building during the storm.

“I'm just so thankful that their quick actions and solid thinking in a time of crisis that they were able to keep their heads together ... It's really brought us together,” Taylor said.

Taylor expects to be able to maintain the entire staff despite the losses.

She plans to host a barbecue the weekend before the center reopens as a way for the children to get used to the new location.