I don’t know if television has really given us more than a glance at the damage that occurred as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Every time I see a home that has been leveled or water flowing through places it isn’t supposed to, I want to do something.
Instilled in many people is the desire to respond in some way. I’ve seen it all my life. I’ve known neighborly women who started preparing a covered dish only moments after finding out that a friend or relative had died.
It is not a Southern thing, but some folks don’t get it.
We had a neighbor in Social Circle who passed away. He was originally from somewhere else. I don’t know where “somewhere else” was, but it was not a neighborly place.
My dad, who was a great cook, prepared a platter of sliced ham and made some potato salad and took it to the man’s home. His widow tried to offer my dad a tip, as if he were a delivery man from a catering service. That was troubling to my father.
Beyond that one example, there are countless families who have been blessed by the demonstrated caring of others. To me, a plate of fried chicken is as much an expression of love and sympathy as the most beautiful arrangement of flowers.
A man I know came across another man seeking help one day. He noticed that the other man did not have a decent pair of shoes.
“What size shoe do you wear?” he asked the needy man. Finding out he wore the same size, he took off his shoes, gave them to the man and went home in his socks. It is one of those examples of human compassion that I love.
I have collected canned goods and bottled water for disasters before and filled up multiple tractor-trailer rigs. The truth is, on the receiving end it is a nightmare. You have to have a place to load in all of that stuff and distribute it to people in need. That is easier said than done.
It is human nature to see someone cold and in need and feel the urge to give them your blanket or the coat off your back.
There are many agencies who are responding to the crisis in the Northeast. There are Red Cross and Salvation Army volunteers who will provide thousands of people with a nutritious meal in the days ahead. In addition, they will be giving vouchers for victims to go to a store and buy the personal items they need.
The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention is now the third largest responding agency in disaster relief. In addition to providing food, they also have facilities where people can get a warm shower in a portable trailer. They also have trailers equipped with washers and dryers where people who are living in shelters can wash their clothes for the first time in days. There are folks who will go in with shovels to remove mud and debris from flooded homes.
I know that somebody will start collecting stuff to take up North, but the fastest way to give those folks some help is by making a donation. Online with a credit card gets help there soon, but if you want to write a check, there is information on how you can do that.
This is a major disaster and we need to help our neighbors.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.