Helping for the Long Haul

My friend Carrie has always been a helper. A giver. In fact, I met her through a support group she founded for grieving infertiles like me (back before I knew that someday, I'd become inundated with small boys). And when I was pregnant with Corbin, and lamenting that all of my baby boy things had been through the wringer? She mailed me a HUGE box of the cutest stuff - and when I say huge, I mean the thing weighed like sixty pounds. Plus a sweet handwritten card ... I think that you two not only bring fabulous children into the world but are some of the best parents out there. I'm so thankful that we got to experience the "broken" phase with you so that we can understand just how "whole" you are with Colin, Cameron, Coby and now Corbin!

Luckily for Carrie, her house and family were spared when one of the most destructive tornadoes we've seen ripped through Oklahoma recently. And that's also lucky for Oklahoma - because like I said, Carrie is a helper. She's been tirelessly orchestrating relief efforts since day one, and opening her home to people who no longer have a place for the graduation parties they'd planned.

This is the very high school her daughter was in during the tornado. Scary!

When I messaged her on Facebook to ask how I could help, she replied that what displaced Oklahomans need most is not stuff - that's pouring in - but donations to the Red Cross. Here's what she said:

It's so needed. Right now there is a lot but soon people outside of here will forget and the donations will dry up. The Red Cross will stay until we are done. I tell you Rita. I've seen this stuff on TV for years and it truly is nothing like being here. I can't even describe the horror of this area right now. There were pieces of cars wrapped in 25 foot trees like Christmas ribbon. HUGE trees look like they've been peeled like string cheese. I had to pull over and stop after I drove past Briarwood today. Horrific, decimation, obliteration, those are the words that come to mind but they are so inadequate.

I can't even imagine, can you?

Then a couple days later, she posted the following on Facebook, shared from the Moore Oklahoma Tornado Info page - it's got some fabulous ideas.

Two years ago this week Joplin, MO experienced the same tragedy as Moore, OK (and surrounding areas) did this past weekend. For the past two years Joplin has taken in tons of donations and is STILL rebuilding their community. There is so much love and community dedicated to those affected and everyone wants TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW. And that is very understandable. But for a moment could we consider a few things?

Even though there are a TON of donations and help converging onto Moore right now, we need to consider the long-term. There is going to come a time (and I believe fairly shortly) that the city of Moore is going to ask that no more donations be sent to them because there will just not be the storage room or manpower to handle it all. What I would like all of us to think about is "what can we do for those affected when its time to start school again in the fall, what can we do for those affected at Thanksgiving time and then again at Christmas?" .... See, all of these folks will still need us 4, 6, 12, 18 months from now. We must not allow ourselves to burn out too soon so that in 6 months, we have nothing to offer to our friends who have been through so much.

Some ideas to consider:

* Start a "Back To School Supply Drive" -- consider everything a student would need to start a new year with a fresh start. AND this includes ALL THE STUDENTS, not just the ones that were injured as this affected all of them. Volunteers & Donations will be needed.

* Start working on plans for a "Community Wide Thanksgiving Dinner." Talk to local businesses, organizations and churches about helping coordinate such an event. Volunteers and donations will be needed.

* Start a "Christmas Toy Drive" -- Think about how in the world are parents going to provide a Christmas for their children after losing EVERYTHING. As a parent, wouldn't it be comforting to know that in 7 months from now you wouldn't have to worry about purchasing gifts and that out of love the local and surrounding communities provided for you and your family? This of course would include ALL the children. This could even turn into a "Adopt a Family" event. Volunteers and donations will be needed.

There is so much work to be done over the coming months and even years. Please consider being around to help the affected communities (ALL OF THEM IN OKLAHOMA) for the long haul. You will be needed then as you are right now. So, please, don't burn out your "giving spirit" too soon by wanting to do something "right now." We will need you tomorrow, next month and next year.

Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support you have shown so far and we look forward to working with you all. When a neighbor, friend or family hurts, we all feel it and must do our best to be there whenever a need arises.

So. If your heart goes out to these families like mine does - please do what you can to help. Donate to the Red Cross right here, or donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Or you can donate $10 to the Salvation Army relief efforts by texting STORM to 80888. Or you can do as the above info suggests and organize a toy or school supply drive for long-term relief!

The world needs more Carries. Let's see what we can do to help that, y'all!

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