TODAY   |  April 06, 2014

Students from towns hit by tornadoes join forces

In 2011, 158 lives were lost in Joplin, Mo., due to a tornado, and last year a storm took 24 lives in Moore, Okla. While that community continues to recover, local school kids are getting assistance from some friends over 200 miles away. NBC’s Luke Russert reports.

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>>> of kids paying it forward after tragedy more than two years after a tornado destroyed joplin, missouri, students from that town traveled to another tornado-ravaged town, moore , oklahoma . as luke russert reports, they brought smiles, stories of shared experiences and hope for a community that is still recovering.

>> reporter: bonded by tragedy, born out of unthinkable destruction. if anybody can relate to the children of moore , oklahoma , it was these kids from joplin, missouri. they came four house by bus to share their similar experiences and help the rebuild move forward.

>> 14 kids from our school are coming to bring a check with over $3,000 in books for plaza towers.

>> reporter: it was the elementary school left in rubble. trapping students and teachers, seven children lost their lives.

>> in this world you get knocked down but they're having courage and rebuilding it better than it was last time.

>> reporter: while the town of moore , oklahoma , is rebuilding quickly, new homes are going up, the elementary school is coming backs, one thing that will take longer to rebuild is a piece of mind . kids still trying to get over the pain of all those who were lo lost.

>> my friend sydney she was in third grade. i miss her so much.

>> reporter: she passed away?

>> uh-huh. it's really sad.

>> reporter: while there are heavy hearts.

>> it's going to be an honor to visit with you at lunchtime.

>> reporter: principal amy simpson this support has helped her students.

>> for them to be able to talk one-on-one, to have conversations about where they are today, it makes a world of difference.

>> that makes me really happy inside, like they're helping us and we hope that it encourages them and tells them that there really people out there that care.

>> reporter: not only care, but also enjoy giving back.

>> it feels amazing even though we've never seen their faces until now. it feels good to give. better to give than to receive.

>> reporter: for "today," luke russert , nbc news, moore , oklahoma .