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Teens put own tragedies aside to help with tornado cleanup

BRIDGE CREEK, Okla. (AP) -- One lost her home in the Oklahoma tornadoes. The other survived the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

Yet when Sarah Fisicaro and Melissa Varner met here Tuesday, they said they were just 17-year-olds ready to pick up tornado debris in Melissa's hometown.There wasn't any talk about their tragedies. Just work, side by side, their ponytails swaying in the wind. Sometimes they laughed at shoes getting stuck in the red Oklahoma mud.

Just two months ago, Sarah hid in a science room as two of her classmates killed 12 students, a teacher and themselves. Two of her close friends died.

On Tuesday, she wore her Columbine cap as she combed through the tornado debris where a home once stood, Melissa right next to her. They looked for anything the half-mile twister left behind.

Melissa lost her home and her community in the May 3 tornadoes. Twelve of the 44 Oklahomans who died were from Bridge Creek, making it the hardest hit area.

"We're here to work. It's not about the 'shooting kids' meeting the 'tornado kids,' " Melissa said. "We all know the bad stuff that happened to us. We're just moving on."

Thirty Littleton teenagers are helping out, part of a youth group from Foothills Bible Church. They coordinated the cleanup with a youth group from Ridgecrest Baptist Church.

When the groups arrived at Ridgecrest, they found a chest-high pile of rubble -- the church. The teenagers sang and prayed before dividing into teams.

One team formed a human chain as it combed through 14-year-old Jared Simmons' yard. Jared didn't need to explain to the Columbine visitors his grief.

"I think we kinda know how it is without saying anything," he said.