We're sitting here in the kitchen talking about what's happened in Alabama.
Pup came in to the kitchen and said, "Mom, I'd like to help those people but I'm not sure what I can do." The news shows photos and videos of the areas affected. It's kind of difficult to process. In the parts that we could see and from the people we've talked to, there are people in dire need and those who are fine. Roads are closed. Power crews are working round the clock. Crews with tags from Kentucky, Virginia, and Texas are there. The National Guard is visible. As we passed we could hear a lady thanking them for being there to help.
You have to realize what it's like. You drive through country roads and it looks like any other beautiful spring day. Nothing is wrong.
Then you see the damage. It's as if a huge weedeater has come through and cut down trees and blown away houses. Then you drive further and it's back to that beautiful spring day.
Some of the areas are remote and some are highly populated. That's important to note because of the kind of rescue effort you're looking at.
I was telling Pup about this as we talked about what we could do. He wants to help. He wants to go to the areas hit and help people. I thought about this as we looked at the damage. To Pup sending a check to some address just doesn't seem as much help as actually going house to house with the rescue folks.
But the reality is sometimes that donation is the best thing you can do.
Pup and I are talking about this and all the time the words are going on in my heart -
"...loves the only house big enough for all the pain in the world..."
So here we sit in the kitchen wondering about what we could do....
Here's what we've heard and what we've seen and more than likely who we'll give donations to:
The Red Cross has stations with water. Volunteers are highly visible in areas that are rural and where water is needed. I'm guess that giving blood is important too.
It's my understanding that the Salvation Army in Tuscaloosa was either badly damaged or destroyed. From the aftermath of Katrina, it's also my understanding that if you give to the local Salvation Army it will stay with the areas affected. We know that our closest one gives food and shelter when the hurricanes come. It stays local and isn't eaten up with overhead.
Food banks in the state also keep the money local and give food at reduced prices to area charities. I also have been told that while they appreciate food donations they also can match money donations there by doubling the purchasing power. These charities include many churches who take in folks when they've evacuated from the Gulf Coast. I'm thinking that we'll donate to them too. The Food Bank especially helps folks. We hear from friends and co workers of all kinds of area charities who've benefited. I'm thinking that Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville areas may have the same.
And finally the Humane Society.
During the storms, pets get separated from their humans or worse their humans die. The local Humane Society take donations of money, supplies, and volunteers.
If you live in the states who have rescue crews and power crews in the states affected, I KNOW that folks appreciate their help. I can tell you that their work is appreciated. The last time the power was out due to a hurricane, I was so happy to see the folks who'd come all the way from the Wisconsin/Minnesota area. Honestly they looked like angels. So if you hear of a local power crew or rescue crew or church who's come south, you can tell them that they are welcome. Thank them and their families for their time.
I'm not leaving out the other places in the US who've been hit with this Spring storms. It's just that we know a bit more about the Alabama areas hit. The organizations that people I know see helping.
Here's my advice to Pup.
Look at what people are doing.
Ask the people who you donate to how much stays in the area and what percent goes to national funds and overhead.
Give knowing that what you donate adds to that donated to others. Like the proverbial snowball it turns into enough to rebuild.
Prepare for the future. This is a good time to see who's actually helping with weather or emergency issues in your own area. See who's really doing things and find out what training that you need to help them. We've talked to churches who organize donation efforts, folks who make emergency kits to be given out in affected areas, folks who take in people who've lost their homes. You might not have the training to help them now but you can prepare to help in the future. We talked to one rescue squad who said that you could help them by just being there to hug a person's neck and answer their questions. They help all year long.
Sometime you think that you don't have anything to give and then you find out what you have is most valuble of all.
The gift of your time and effort.
Think about what you can do?
And then go do it.
What will we do?