OGE financial analyst Joe Chancellor joined hundreds of corporate volunteers last week in distributing toys donated through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree project.
Chancellor on Friday helped retrieve bagged gifts and bikes lined up in the old J.C. Penney store at Plaza Mayor, formerly known as Crossroads Mall. He then loaded them in a shopping cart and wheeled them — and a Christmas ham and other foodstuffs donated by Feed The Children — to the cars of needy parents. Some 1,500 families and seniors benefited.
OGE gifts its employees up to 16 hours annually for community voluntarism, Chancellor said. But Friday was the first opportunity he had this year to volunteer, he said.
Chancellor lost his home in the Moore tornado.
“When I left home that morning, I told my wife to keep an eye on the weather,” he said. “She pulled our son, who was in half-day kindergarten at Plaza Towers, out of school, and they and our baby daughter, who's 3, took cover in the hallway of our home at SW 16 and Santa Fe. We didn't have a storm shelter.”
Chancellor called his wife that day before he and his OGE co-workers headed underground to the downtown concourse.
“The sirens,” he said, “went off while we were talking, and she said ‘I got to go.'”
Chancellor didn't learn his family was OK until 6 p.m. that night.
He raced home, but no cars were allowed past Portland and 119th, and he had no cell service. After charging his phone at St. Anthony South, he finally talked to his family, but didn't put his arms around them until three hours later.
With the short holiday season and bad weather, the Salvation Army's kettle collection is running some $50,000 less than anticipated this year, officials said. Readers interested in helping make up the deficit may send checks, payable to The Salvation Army, to P.O. Box 2095, Oklahoma City, OK 73101.