McAlester News-Capital

McAlester News-Capital office

THUMBS UP to everyone who helped keep neighbors warmer through this week's winter storms.

All Saints Episcopal Church at 325 E. Washington in McAlester offered a warming station for the homeless among several individuals and organizations looking to help our community through the icy weather.

“We want everyone to be safe and warm,” Mother Janie Koch told us.

The event offered warmth and food to those in need during the extreme weather.

Temperatures this week plummeted to near- or -record lows. The temperature stayed in the single digits through most of Monday and fell to negative-11 degrees early Tuesday, according to National Weather Service data recorded at McAlester Regional Airport. Wind chills fell to negative-19 degrees both days.

Homelessness is a year-round concern and the extreme weather further jeopardizes those who don't have a roof over their head.

Megan Waters, who helped through Keep McAlester Beautiful, said the current homeless population in McAlester is unknown, but there were about 200 at a count event last year.

Organizations helping All Saints with the warming station included Lions Club McAlester, Pepsi Cola of McAlester, Beta Iota Epsilon Sigma Alpha Sorority, Rotary Club McAlester, Daylight Donuts, Pruett’s Grocery, Sam Wampler’s Freedom Ford, St. Francis Ministries, and more.

We thank All Saints and everyone involved in helping our neighbors.

•••

THUMBS UP to Canadian Public Schools elementary principal Laura Gragg and her husband for braving ice and snow to deliver food to students.

Laura and her husband, Jeremy, delivered food sacks, blankets and space heaters in some cases to students over the past week amid the winter storms.

The 16-year-educator said she wanted to make sure students were OK through the storms and did what she could to help.

"If you're an educator, your kids at your school become your personal kids," Laura told us.

We thank Laura and Jeremy for taking care of the students like they were their own children.

CPS qualifies for free and reduced meals as a large portion of students live in low-income households.

Winter storms forced the school to send kids home and Laura said she couldn't help but think about the students during the freezing temperatures.

Jeremy is a middle school principal at Eufaula and helped with packing and driving to student's houses.

We appreciate the Graggs and other educators for checking on students in our community through the storms.

•••

THUMBS UP to everyone looking out for others in the snow and ice.

Quinton Public Schools heated a bus for community members to get a break from the winter weather.

McAlester police helped homeless people find warmth or resources.

A local elementary principal delivered food and blankets to students through the ice and snow.

Construction companies used equipment to shovel snow in parking lots and driveways.

McAlester city workers braved the freezing temperatures to find and repair water leaks as pipes froze or burst.

Neighbors helped each other shovel snow from driveways.

As we all face the winter storms together, it's heartwarming to see community members helping each other.

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