During May 2011, Joplin, MO, was devastated by a mile-wide F5 tornado. In June, a friend of mine organized a group of volunteers to make the hour and a half drive to Joplin.
I can’t even begin to tell you how lucky I am to have such good-hearted friends who organized this trip. I had wanted to help but hadn’t taken a step towards it, unless you count the easy American Red Cross text donation. (By the way, you can still text 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross.)
I’ve been putting off blogging about our experience because I knew it’d be a tough one. It really was one of the best (and saddest) experiences of my life.
Driving into Joplin, this is what we encountered:
Believe me, much worse in person. Imagine this view in every direction you can see. Awful.
When we arrived in Joplin, after signing in at the volunteer station, we were shipped by bus to our location for the day. This guy was in our group and it makes me tear up just thinking about how cute and inspirational he was throughout the day.
He was 84 years old and drove in from a few hours away to volunteer for the day. He worked as hard (or harder) as the other volunteers. How adorable is he??
The volunteer instructions told us to bring our own bagged lunch, but of course we didn’t come prepared. Luckily, there was church that offered free lunch to the volunteers. It was delicious and a perfect example of how anyone can help in times of need. These people were so nice and the food was delicious – we definitely needed some reinforcement after doing some heavy lifting all morning.
If you are interested in making a difference in Joplin, I heard that Extreme Makeover Home Edition is planning a Joplin project. I’m so curious how many people they will able to help! Get more information here – http://www.joinextreme.com/joplin.