He didn’t wait to be phoned or summoned some other way to give aid.
Rather, Charlie McVan quietly made a few phone calls on his own and volunteered himself to go to a place he had never been to help those he had never met; to Moore, Okla., which was decimated last week by an EF5 tornado that blew through Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma with little warning for nearly 40 minutes.
Folks who know Charlie McVan were not surprised by his passion. Nothing less would be expected of someone like the Archbishop Hoban High School graduate (Class of 2001) who went on to Kent State University and now works as a consultant out of Cleveland.
He was merely taking his cue out of a passage in the Bible, namely Matthew 25:45:
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ”
It’s that kind of passion that piloted McVan to take time off from his job (shortly after the tornado touched down) and book a flight to Oklahoma, said Jason Horinger, director of service and outreach for Hoban and a former Hoban classmate of McVan.
Horinger said McVan talked to him before leaving to cement himself where it would do some good.
As fate would have it, it was Hoban seniors’ final day of school on Wednesday when McVan left for Moore, Okla., where 24 people are known dead. “We decided to launch a fund-raiser to help with the relief effort.” Horinger said. At this writing there was close to $1,000 in the fund. The collection runs through this week.
In addition, students and friends of Hoban have been collecting basic supplies, heavy on baby products like formula and diapers.
“It’s just great to have someone like Charlie who has boots on the ground who can tell us what’s most needed and [to what organizations] we should direct our donations. … Charlie is a funny guy. He’s definitely a go-getter. When he makes up his mind to do something he does it. That’s just Charlie!’’ Horinger said.
“He sent photos of the devastation from the plane and as soon as he landed he rented a car.”
Charlie — who grew up in the Portage Lakes/New Franklin area but currently resides in Cleveland — said he was between work assignments when the tornado hit and had the time to take off work. “I was doing stuff at the time, but it was not more important [than what was happening in Oklahoma],” said the 30-year-old who was reached Friday in the high-volume Oklahoma traffic.
“I didn’t have a lot of solidified plans except just getting there,” he said, adding that he relied a lot on social media like Twitter. “Hooking up with different organizations was difficult because telephone reception, which is better now, was pretty terrible.”
Once there, approaching the city from the southernmost point where the tornado started, Charlie said he passed a church — the Harvest Church — with a sign that said Disaster Relief; so he walked into the church to help.
Mostly he worked removing debris, delivering water and helping families ferret out what little they could salvage. Many of the families who had homes, although with no power, to return to refused to leave, fearing looters. So Charlie and others found themselves running errands for them.
The television news accounts of the situation on the ground doesn’t begin to tell the story of the devastation in Oklahoma, Charlie insisted.
“What strikes me is that literally everywhere you go, to the stores or walking through the neighborhoods, how many times you’re asked ‘Are you OK? What do you need?’ ”
And this: “There are so many American flags,” he said. “You see them everywhere. … That says to me we’re tough people. … ”
“It’s just so reassuring to know what ties us together!”
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.