Remember a week ago when I posted about ways to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy? Thanks to a freader, I listed a donation drive by local neighborhood, but it ended only hours after I posted the piece. However, social media, Richmonders, and y’all did not .
A woman, who recently moved to Richmond from the tri-state are, saw a retweet of the post and reached out on Twitter: I’m volunteering in NYC. I leave Monday night, and I’d love to bring up supplies.
Okay, I’ll organize a donation drive in a few hours. NO PROBLEM. I used my post on Sandy plus Facebook, Twitter, email and my front yard from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.. I warn Christine: We might not get much response. And she said that she felt good that at least I emailed with her and we were trying.
I got a few email replies to my post that morning so I sent my address to them (because I didn’t include it in the post since my paranoia runs deep enough) and every so often I’d look out my window and see a few more bags. Then I’d tear up bit and post about crying. It was embarrassingly wonderful and I realized we might actually fill her car. I emailed my neighbors, and I posted a few pictures on Facebook. I reminded everyone they had until 4:30 p.m., which wasn’t convenient on a Monday, but people came on their lunch breaks and after school and from all over the area. And those who couldn’t come due to time or location, donated money or mailed something up North to those families I linked to in the original post so I felt pretty good when I went to run errands in the late afternoon.
But when my husband came home from work an hour after the one day spur-of-the-moment donation drive ended, I could not get the goofy grin off my face.
We packed Christine’s car, and she delivered the donations to Sixth Street Center and Trinity Church in New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, I had people asking me to continue the donation drive, and had to politely refuse because I was now searching for more cars, events, and postage. I now had a living room full of donations from your generosity. Richmond is amazing.
I just kept putting the word out and our backup plan was to mail the supplies up to New York and New Jersey. It’s the least we could do after all y’all had done on Monday.
However, since that night, we’ve filled Carrie’s car, a NYC marathoner who decided to run the Richmond marathon when her race was canceled and responded to my Facebook post and who happens to be working with Far Rockaway Queens, which is one of the first stories that inspired my original blog piece. (I love that last part the most!)
We dropped off gloves and hats for a hard-hit Brooklyn neighborhood at one of my long-time reader’s home.
We dropped off the rest of the non-perishable food and clothing at a Sandy hurricane drive in Glen Allen to be driven up this week (and if you’ve followed the donation stories in the news, you know how difficult it is to find places that can handle clothing now so we should all be extra grateful to them).
We have one more car going up at the end of this week to New Jersey. Susan, a wonderful woman, who just wants to help in any way that she can, reached out to me when she heard about my leftover donation conundrum. Her husband is already in N.J., and we will fill her car with last of the donations on Thursday evening.
I set out to share some stories so we could help those effect by Sandy. You reached back and encouraged more through passing the post along and emailing me and showing up in front yard. You reminded me to never underestimate the generosity of my freader, my neighbors and my city. Besides the occasional Go Giants, no one cared where I grew up or who I voted for. No one asked for credit or links or pictures (although I am giving as many as I can convince because y’all deserve it).
I say all the time: The readers of my blog renew my faith in humanity. Well, this experience, while overwhelming at times, like when my living room was filled with three carloads of donations, and Christine’s car was full and driving away, reminded me that we are everywhere.
People want to love and help and give. We may not always know how or when or do it with much grace, but people are good and kind, and when given the opportunity, we will show up.
Thank you for giving me the chance to show up.