Natural Disasters Ignites Supernatural Kindness
The end of August and first few weeks of September will undoubtedly go down in history as a time of natural destruction and devastation. First, hurricane Harvey hammered the Gulf Coast, then hurricane Irma imperiled Florida, the Keys and select islands in the Caribbean. Before long, hurricane Maria was moving in and Mexico found itself recovering from a life-threatening earthquake.
Our town is one of Harvey’s victims. That natural disaster dumped a record rainfall of 50.03” and flooded approximately 3000 homes in our community, displacing our residents to hotels, apartments, campers, and the homes of family, friends, and even strangers. While it has seemed overwhelmingly hopeless at times, it has also an unbelievable gift to experience the generosity of these people who have opened up their living spaces so that those who lost their homes to floodwaters can keep living here and their children can still attend our schools while they recover and rebuild. There have even been a few families who have displaced themselves, giving up their homes and moving in with friends so that a bigger family in need can have a place to stay.
People are doing each other’s laundry, making and delivering meals, driving each other from place to place, and helping cut down toppled trees and gut flooded houses. The volunteerism has been off the charts, so much so that neighborhood streets are often impassable, as if there were a Super Bowl party, but instead it’s a cleanup crew, ready to serve. High school teams spent our week off of classes working at our makeshift shelter at the high school and then cleaning up each other’s houses, carrying the heirlooms that make our houses a home to the curb as if it were garbage, because now it is.
Equally as incredible is the outpouring of compassion, comfort, and care from around the nation from people who have been touched by our story and motivated to help. Students too numerous to count have written letters and drawn cards of empathy and encouragement, telling us that they are praying for us, that things will be okay, that good weather days always follow bad weather days.
A school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is hosting a Dance-A-Thon and Hop-A-Thon to raise money for our flood survivors. The pictures of these student leaders planning and preparing this FUNdraiser have been heartwarming; we can’t wait to hear all about them dancing up a storm on our behalf.
In Phoenix, New York, school leaders came up with the idea to sell the chance to wear hats and/or PJs for $1.00 each. Dressed in their sweetest sleepwear and hats, these tweens lined up to put their dollar bills into the collection bin. Hats off to them for this dreamy idea.
In Florida, while young Ayel was creating inspirational bookmarks and attaching a lucky penny for each of our school’s Harvey survivors because she never wants them “to lose their page,” hurricane Irma was wreaking havoc on her state. Still, she persisted and we received her care package on Friday.
In Delaware, a homeschool group who is planning a Glow Dance party for their families and friends has earmarked the admission fee for hurricane survivors.
In California, The Undy 500 hosted by Kids for Peace quickly became The Undy 5000. Southwest Airlines allowed all of those bags to fly for free when they traveled last week from CA to TX for distribution in Dickinson.
Every single touchstone has one therapeutic goal: To make us feel better.
From a school family in Ohio, we’ve received a student-created book with page after page of positive things that make them feel better when the going gets tough; from students in Indiana, a true-colors playground ball that we can play with at recess. From our friends in Massachusetts, a copy of the new book Super George and the Invisible Shield by their school counselor Laurie P. Mendoza. From children in Montana, a map filled with student signatures showing empathy, compassion, hope, kindness and love coming our way from way up north, and from an elementary school in Washington, a worry doll and a heart-shaped piece of wood, reminders to stay strong.
And these shining examples are just a drop in the bucket of how people have been the rainbow in our storm. With every natural disaster comes a chance for supernatural acts of kindness to come to the rescue and help those affected recover, restore, and rebuild. In what creative ways have you helped when disaster strikes?