23/05/2013 13:28 BST | Updated 23/07/2013 06:12 BST

A Light in the Darkness: Nine-Year-Old Boy Gathers Food, Donations for Victims of Moore, Oklahoma Tornado

It's hard for Brits to fathom the fear that accompanies living in Tornado Alley at this time of year. Each late spring and early summer, every thunderstorm has the potential for what weather forecasters call "tornadic activity." You get used to hurrying down to your basement with your kids, carrying inflatable mattresses, flashlights and food, hoping that the subterranean refuge will protect you as the banshee wail of the tornado sirens rings out.

And then Joplin happens. And now Moore. So much devastation. So much grief.

In the midst of this darkness comes the light of compassion. When nine-year-old Gavin Schroeder, a resident of Sulphur Springs in East Texas, saw the suffering in Moore (about 230 miles away) unfolding on the family TV, he wrote a list of things he'd like to do for the residents, including donating food, money and toys. Initially his father, Ken, was skeptical. After all, many charities were already underway with their own fundraising efforts. But the determined boy "didn't listen to me," Ken says, and kept pushing his parents to let him do his part.


Ken posted an image of his son's list on Facebook and within minutes began receiving messages, e-mails and texts from friends and family asking how they could help. Realizing that now was the time to act on Gavin's idea, Ken quickly set up a Facebook page for the More4Moore campaign, along with a PayPal account to raise money.

Within the first 24 hours donors had given over $750 (£500), and the Schroeder family had talked the local Lowe's (US equivalent of Homebase) into donating a pallet loaded with bottled water and hundreds of batteries. Wal-Mart also decided to pitch in and this Sunday, Ken's church will ask for a special offering. Schools in Sulphur Springs are handing out flyers with a QR code linking to the More4Moore web pages, and are installing donation bins so students can bring in canned goods and other much-needed items. The local CBS News team interviewed Gavin for an evening broadcast. On 7 June, the Schroeders will deliver the goods and money to the First Baptist Church in Moore.


When he's not thinking of ways to help those who can't help themselves, Gavin is just "a typical nine-year-old," Ken says. "He likes playing video games, catch and (laughing) fighting with his sister." The Schroeders have taught their children the importance of community outreach and Gavin watches local and world news every night because, Ken says, "he wants to know what's happening so he can understand what people are going through." The efforts of governments and charities are admirable and necessary but for those affected by the Moore disaster, charity begins in the heart of a child.