Memphians Step Up to Help Schools Damaged By Oklahoma Tornado - Memphis Business Journal - 6/12/13

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

While large organizations like the Red Cross are working to help victims of the May tornados that hit Moore, Okla., Memphian Angela Copeland, who grew up in Moore, wanted to do something to help the school district devastated by the storms.

Copeland, who has served as an executive with Memphis-based companies like The ServiceMaster Co., and First Tennessee Bank, is working with RedRover Sales & Marketing to put together Memphis to Moore, a fundraiser that will be held June 14 at the Westin Memphis Beale Street beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

They’re available online at

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to the Moore Public Schools, the third largest school district in the state with more than 21,000 students and 1,400 teachers. The school system saw more than half of its 36 public schools severely damaged or destroyed by the storms.

Lori Turner-Wilson, president of RedRover, said they hope to attract 200 people to the event, and more than 100 tickets have already been sold. Turner said events of this size normally take between six to nine months to coordinate, but the cause inspired everyone involved to work quickly.

Patrick Jordan, general manager of the Westin, worked in New Orleans in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. Turner-Wilson said Jordan offered the hotel’s ballroom, valet and food for free.

“We want as close to 100 percent of the proceeds to go to the schools,” she said.

Other local businesses have donated liquor, supplies and items for the silent auction. Those items include a stay at the Peabody Hotel; products from local handbag designer Katie Kalsi; jewelry from Memphis-based designers Count Me Healthy and Frayed; tickets to Ballet Memphis; gift certificates from local restaurants; and a special chocolate basket from Chocistry, a Memphis-based chocolatier.

Entertainment will include local musician Grace Askew, who appeared on the NBC series, “The Voice.” The goal is to raise $10,000.

Turner-Wilson said the willingness to help embodies the spirit of Memphis.

“There are so many people here who have connections back to Moore,” Turner-Wilson said. “The spirit of Memphis may be hard for people new to the area to understand. We believe in doing things for people here.”

Michael Sheffield covers bioscience and biotechnology; manufacturing; tourism and hospitality; and sports business. Contact him at