YUKON — Although their school is gone, children from Canadian Valley Technology Center's Child Development Center have a place to go during the day and, now, books to read and toys to play with when they get there.
A group of faculty, staff and students from the University of Central Oklahoma dropped off several boxes of books, art materials and toys at Church of Christ — South Yukon for the child care center Thursday morning.
The El Reno technology center's child care center has been operating in the church since the building that housed the center was destroyed in the May 31 tornado in Canadian County. No children were present at the center when the tornado struck.
The storm caused heavy damage at the technology center, destroying buildings and leaving cars strewed. Heavy winds picked up a wind turbine blade that had been tied down with steel straps and pushed it against a building nearby.
About 15 people took shelter in basements on campus during the storm. All escaped without injury.
In a sense, the timing of the storm was fortunate for the child care center, said technology center Superintendent Greg Winters. Had the storm passed through the area earlier in the afternoon, there may have been injuries or fatalities, he said.
After the tornado, the center has received offers of help from people all over the state and nation. The church offered space for the children's center, he said, and others have given donations.
“We appreciate what you've done,” Winters told the UCO group.
Judy Reyes-Henderson, development manager for UCO's College of Education and Professional Studies, said the college collected toys for about a month before the donation. Notices were posted on the college's Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as UCO's social media pages. By Thursday morning, her sport utility vehicle was loaded with donations.
The college has a long-standing relationship with the child care center, Reyes-Henderson said, with UCO students going to work at the center. After the storm left the center in ruins, students, faculty and staff wanted to help in any way they could, she said.
“The community has been great,” she said. “My truck's been loaded down for probably about a week.”