A Quick Note of Thanks

A Quick Note of Thanks

Hello there, FreeOK fans and supporters. I’d like to share a quick personal story as my first post, before getting down to FreeOK blogging business.

It was the late spring of 2012 and I had recently decided to take the leap of admitting to my very religious family and social circle in general that I was an atheist, and high on my list of needs was support from sympathetic and like-minded individuals. I was plugged into a rudimentary level of secular social media already, and through the grapevine I heard about a freethought convention right here in Oklahoma.

So I packed up my boyfriend, another good friend, and some random people who said they were interested and drove from Tahlequah to Tulsa to attend the 2012 FreeOK Convention. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and to tell the truth I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what the majority of secular people were like, and I didn’t know what kind of reception such a convention would get in Tulsa.

I left FreeOK 2012 happy and energized. I had the urls and Facebooks of secular groups in the area, a few personal phone numbers, and thanks to the inspiring speakers and the friendly generosity of my fellow conference-goers, I had a new feeling of belonging, of being part of something important. My involvement in the secular movement has only been bigger and better since then, and it started with FreeOK.

This is the value of conventions, especially in highly religious areas like Oklahoma. So thank you, FreeOK organizers, supporters, speakers, and attendees. I’m sure there are many stories like mine out there.

Let’s keep ‘em coming.

The Giving Drive

The Giving Drive

giving drive slide-01

This year starts FreeOK’s first annual Giving Drive, merging our blood drive, food drive, and the first HHA gift drop location for the season.

Whether you can donate blood or not, the event will be used as a donation drop point for food items to benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and a gift drop location for holiday adoptions made through the HHA Program.

See the Event page for more details.

Welcome Back to FreeOK!

Welcome Back to FreeOK!

We’ve been busy putting together our new look and generating more projects, events and opportunities for interaction.

New Stuff

  • Our new Events and Projects section details everything we’ll be up to over the next few months. We’ve even got a nifty calendar to that effect. Over time, you will be better able to identify our news and activities through colored icons designated for community service, education, giving, disaster recovery and church v state activism. Icons designated for our various campaigns will also be obvious.

 

  • FreeOK memberships are now available for purchase! In our tradition of giving you stuff for giving us stuff, membership perks include discounts on merchandise in our new shop, event invites, tickets and more! Pop over to the Memberships page to learn more.
  • Did we mention that we have a Shop now? FreeOK and seasonal Actually Campaign merch are available with new stuff being added periodically. We’ve refined our shipping process to make it as painless on everyone as possible. Members get discounts and all profits not designated for production benefit humanist aid and disaster relief projects in and around Oklahoma.

 

  • In Oklahoma and looking for a local secular community group to join? Perhaps you’re a local freethought-friendly business or patron looking for more visibility. Our network provides for both those things. Check back in a few weeks for business listings. The community groups have been posted. Are we missing your group? Send an email with your details to coordinator@freeok.org and we’ll add you for free.

 

  • Volunteering just got easier for those looking for a secular group to join in community service and disaster relief. We’ll even be able to offer credit hours for student volunteers in 2014! As always we are looking for donors and sponsors to help with our operations.The Be Active menu is where you can do all the things.

 

  • Dispatches will be released direct to your inbox once a month, outlining everything for you in case you don’t have the time to hang around here.

Introducing the Holiday Humanists Gifting Program

Introducing the Holiday Humanists Gifting Program

HHA Gifting is the part of FreeOK’s 2013 Giving Drive aimed at providing holiday gift relief to families housing foster children and those in need of assistance for other reasons. Our kids up for gifting adoption provide us with wishlists which we then make available to volunteering sponsors.

Apart from foster and shelter children, we are also accepting registrations/nominations of others in need. You can use our adoption registration form to do just that through November 1st.

Adoptions will open up once registrations close.

Go to the HHA page for more information.

Hug a Heathen at Dove Science Academy Festival

Hug a Heathen at Dove Science Academy Festival

FreeOK will be tabling at the Dove Science Academy Elementary Fall Festival on Saturday, October 5th! Come visit us and other members of the local secular and science community for a fun day out with the family.

Use this opportunity to participate in Hug an Atheist Week sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief. We will be accepting donations in exchange for hugs and other tokens of our affection to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Hug an Atheist Week (October 1st-7th) allows the community to participate in an international partnership between the humanist community and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The LLS provides financial support for scientific research, educational efforts, and patient care. These are services which speak to the values of humanists everywhere. Hug an Atheist events are service events fundraising for a great cause which simultaneously serve to break down stereotypes and stigmas surrounding nonreligious individuals.

See the Event page for additional details.

Disaster Recovery Drive: Steelman Estates

Disaster Recovery Drive: Steelman Estates

We will be returning to our original work site to assist with the tent city that has been set up there. To get involved, RSVP to the event on our Facebook page.

 

Requested donation items include:

Fix-a-flat (a whole case) for the new wheelbarows that were delivered

Vanity sink – “Needs to have the stand and a kinda deep sink. Metal would be great but we aren’t picky. It is for the well house we have, to have it to take samples in.”

VOLUNTEERS: Help transporting donations from the places where they are offered to the people who have needs, and/or gas money for vehicles so they can do this themselves. Help unloading and organizing donations as they come in. Help in the kitchen cooking and serving food. Help with debris clean-up.

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BIG TICKET ITEMS:

8 X 20 (ish) WALK-IN COOLER, Organic Valley/Organic Prairie has said they will donate a bunch of food to us IF we can get this truck !! :D

Army tent (LARGE) to house lots of volunteers

Generators

GOLF CARTS – 2, gas powered (and gas to run them)

Heavy machinery and people that know how to operate these things (bobcats, loaders, skid steers, and dump trucks).

RV style trailer for a resident of Steelman Estates to borrow. Needs to have AC.

RV Camper Portable Waste Holding Tank

Sleep – we could really use some if you have any to spare. :)

WASHER (low water consumption)

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Bacon, Baking powder, Corn starch, Carrots, Celery, Bananas, Pork chops, Ground beef, Cooking oil, Coffee, Brown sugar (2 big bags), Pot roast (if you can find it on sale), Bucket of lard, Tin foil

10X20 (five) easy-up tent for the water specialist who is coming to work on-site;

10X10 (five) easy up tents for the many volunteers that come in every day so they can have a bit of shade

50 Amp RV extension chord cables, 12 gage – 100 foot long

Ant spray, Fly spray, Wasp spray (insecticide for the grounds)

Back braces (of ALL sizes) for our volunteers that are lifting heavy boxes every day.

Bandanas (the special kind that have gel in them to keep your neck cool – they swell when you put water on them)

Batteries – All sizes

Benadryl spray; Calamine lotion; Bug repellent

Bicycle pumps

Boxes (Extra, super-large)

Bungees chords (hundreds, all sizes)

Coffee maker/urn for large amounts

Cots (up to 90, or whatever number you can bring in – getting one or two at a time is still helpful)

Extension chords (heavy duty outdoor w/multi-outlets, 100 foot minimum, 10 gage)

Extension chords (indoor — anything from 5 to 25 feet)

Fans (personal, hand-held, battery operated kind)

Fly strips (cases and cases)

Garbage can w/lid (30 gallon)

Gasoline (regular and deisel)

Garden hoses (50 of them, 100 foot)

GATORADE!!!!! (liquid OR powder in personal serving sizes only)

Gift cards for gas, grocery stores, hardware stores, and household furnishings

Magnets (on the end of pole, with a wheel, for picking nails up off the ground)

Marking paint (the kind for marking utility lines on the ground)

Mouthwash

Plastic totes (LOTS)

Pillows – more and more families are coming back and requesting these

Rubber bands of all sizes

Shoes/Boots – all sizes, NEW or very gently used

Skin-So-Soft (Avon) — We have an amazing volunteer who rode his horse from Missouri to help us out. This lotion helps to keep the flies away from his horse.

Sleeping bags

Socks -children’s sizes only

Solar showers for the families to have at their home sites (Up to 90, or whatever number you can bring in – getting 1 or 2 at a time is still helpful)

Tape measures (long, stainless, durable)

Tarps (8X10 smaller size only)

Tents – family size AND small size

Tools (2 1/2 pound shop hammers/sledge hammers, hammers, nails, pick ax, pliers, screws, wire cutters/dikes)

Underwear – all sizes and genders, NEW; Bras – all sizes, NEW

Weed eaters

White paint and/or siding to cover the housing that was just built over the water well

Zip-loc bags of ALL sizes (small to gallon, freezer, etcetera)

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FreeOK 2013 Event Guide [PDF]

FreeOK 2013 Event Guide [PDF]

We’ve put together a downloadable event guide for you. Event map, parking instructions, schedule, speaker and sponsor bios are all included.

programs

FreeOK’s Relief + Fundraiser Network

FreeOK’s Relief + Fundraiser Network

We have had an amazing network of community partners during the relief effort and through FreeOK’s fundraisers this year. We encourage the continued support of these local businesses and organizations for their tireless efforts on our behalf and on behalf of those who have desperately needed assistance in the last month.

Red Dirt Report

Oklahoma Atheists

The Beyond Belief Network

Occupy OK Relief

Red Dirt Party Bus

Grandad’s Bar

Channing UU Church

Hideaway Pizza

BJ’s Brewhouse (Norman)

 

CCOSA Literacy Drive at FreeOK 2013

CCOSA Literacy Drive at FreeOK 2013

On FreeOK Day at the Cox Convention Center (June 22nd if you haven’t been paying attention), we will be sponsoring a literacy drive to benefit the schools affected by Oklahoma’s May 19-20th tornadoes through CCOSA. The convention will act as a drop location for book donations and monetary contributions to creating a mobile library/book store or rebuilding/restocking the libraries of the schools that were lost. Education and literacy are of considerable importance to us and they should be to everyone.

Books for all ages are welcome, as they can be distributed to other needy areas, but our primary target demographic are  elementary-middle school (YA) readers.

Thank you for all of your contributions to rebuilding our community, no matter what form they may take.

Disaster Relief Volunteer Opportunities

Disaster Relief Volunteer Opportunities

Moore

Volunteer Opportunity Roundup – 500 VOLUNTEERS NEEDED. A base station has been established right in the midst of the destruction. At 8:30 AM meet other volunteers of Frontline Church at Covenant Life Assembly (their gym) at 207 S. Howard Ave to assist in the clean up. We have been asked to clean Moore Cemetery to prepare for graveside services. Ben Hill will be your point person upon arrival for the entire day. See you there! From Frontline Church Website: http://frontlinechurch.tv/servemoore/

The City of Moore is looking for volunteers for a cemetery clean-up on May 22nd at 9:00 am. Volunteers will be picking up debris from the May 20th Tornado. If you would like to volunteer your time, please meet at the Moore Community Center, 301 S. Howard, at 9:00 am on May 22nd. The group will be escorted to the Southgate Baptist Church, where they will walk to the cemetery on foot. Please bring gloves, rakes, etc., and be sure to wear heavy-soled shoes. This is the only volunteer opportunity at this time. For more information, please contact the Moore Parks Department at 793-5090. From City of Moore Website: http://www.cityofmoore.com/volunteer-opportunity-may-22nd

Volunteers with health and medical experience may try the Oklahoma Medical Reserves Corp at www.okmrc.org

Moore Recovers

Beyond donations, many people are seeking other ways to volunteer their time and energy to assist with the recovery of those areas affected by the May 19-20 storms. First responders are still on the ground, but clean up volunteers and Operation BBQ will be looking for help later in the week/ over the weekend. Visit Moore Recovers for additional opportunities as they become available.

 

Operation BBQ

Operation BBQ has set up shop at the Warren Theatre in Moore and are looking for donations of meat and grill-able items. To learn more or to participate, visit OperationBBQRelief.org

 

Volunteer/Responder Breakfasts

FreeOK with the help of local stores will be providing breakfast to responders, volunteers and individuals working in the disaster areas in Moore through Friday, May 24th. Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread have graciously provided the fare. The work will likely continue through the holiday weekend, so if anyone wants to contribute any additional items or funds specifically for this project, email coordinator@freeok.org. Also desired would be pretty signs indicating where to find us or anything witty/encouraging so break out those sharpies and posterboard and hop to it!

 

Donation Sorting

Many businesses and organizations have opened their doors to become donation drop off centers for the relief effort. A list of available drop off locations can be found here.  Contact one of the places gathering donations and offer to help with organizing those items for distribution.

 

Volunteer Drive at the Moore Community Center

A large group of volunteers gathers at the Moore Community Center ( 301 S. Howard) in the morning and disperses to various clean up tasks in the area by 9am. Get there early with shovels in hand and ready to work! If coming from the north, we recommend exiting I-35 at 119B and taking the West Service Rd to Main Street.

This location also acts as a donation drop center.

 

Blood Donation

image009It is common for blood banks to be inundated with an overwhelming number of donations following a natural disaster. Because of this, many donations go unprocessed before they are no longer viable. Our sponsors at Oklahoma Atheists are hosting a blood drive on June 8th, just outside the overflow window for disasters. You may schedule your own appointment or email coordinator@freeok.org with your preferred time slot and a contact phone number and we will get you set up. Whole blood and 2rbc donations are available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Animal Drive

Received Wednesday, May 22nd:

Two of our schools are “hosting” the two displaced schools on Thursday for a time of reuniting and saying goodbye to their teachers and staff. We have a dream. A dream of every one of those children walking out with a back pack and a new/practically new stuffed animal, we don’t want them leaving empty handed. That’s 1200. But we know we can do it. Time is of the essence. We have 24 hours to do this.

We need all donations brought to St. Andrews Methodist Church on SW 119th by 10pm Wed. night. PLEASE PLEASE share this. Get the word out. We’ve asked Journey Church to provide goodie bags, as well. Hoping it hits media tonight. Thank you to the PTAs at both Wayland Bonds Elementary and Eastlake Elementary for helping with making this a special event for these kids.

 

Volunteering in Outlying Areas

Areas outside of Moore hit by the storms are getting less attention and fewer volunteers. FreeOK will be organizing a volunteer drive this weekend, on May 25th to get volunteers and resources to the Shawnee/Carney area. Carpooling will be available and we will be accepting donated items for that area at the Red Dirt Report offices until our departure at 10am. Visit our Facebook page for additional details. Other affected areas include Dale, Newcastle, Bethel Acres, and Lake Thunderbird/Pink. Keep in touch with those localities as clean up efforts continue through the Memorial Day weekend.