Like many families, I suppose, we've been following news reports on the suffering along the Gulf Coast. It's hard not to get caught up in the whole thing, keep going back to the T.V. and the Internet hoping to hear some good news, etc. (That "better news" seems to finally be starting to happen today). The stories have been so heartbreaking and sometimes it's the little things that get you - a little boy having to leave his dog in New Orleans to travel by bus to Houston. I was glad to hear Bush's very straightforward speech this morning - praising those who were trying their best, but cutting to the chase that the "results were unacceptable." I'm sure that, like many famous disasters of the past (the Titanic especially comes to mind) there will be significant hearings and changes made in the way we respond to disasters.
I was delighted to hear of some of the creativity being used to create solutions for some of the myriad of problems created by the shutting down of an entire large city. Premature babies were successfully flown out to hospitals around the nation. They worked to reunite parents with the babies as soon as they could, but the priorities and organization were quite successful. University students in the hard-hit areas have been accepted at colleges and universities throughout the country - with a great deal of flexibility, substantially reduced tuition. etc. There were a LOT of problems, but some things went incredibly well for such a short period of time.
You always wish you could do SOMETHING to help when something terrible happens. So last night I ran to Walmart with some of my kids. We decided to pick out some toiletries and other goodies for the victims of the hurricane. I had a friend traveling to the Houston area who was collecting donations. The kids enjoyed picking out toothpaste, soap, baby wipes, socks, etc. I think it was a good process for them to go through - imagine what it's like in that situation, think of how important these basic things would be that we take for granted, be creative about nice things to send and how to stretch the budget as far as we could. We organized the materials into large clear zip-lock bags to prevent them from getting lost in the shuffle - a bag of blankets, a bag of toiletries, a bag of baby items, etc.
The next day I started worrying about whether it was such a good idea to buy "stuff." It is true that organizations work better with money (saves shipping costs for one thing!), but I had wanted to do something more tangible in my children's eyes. I thought my friend might get over-swamped with stuff and that these items might never reach those they were intended to help. I even thought about going back and returning everything.
We had a homeschool planning meeting at our house this afternoon and several families had decided to pool stuff to send down south with our friend. On the way here, one of the ladies happened to drive past a large truck parked in town, open in back and filled with water bottles and bags of clothes. She stopped and asked if we could add our stuff to the pile and the driver was more than willing. We met the deadline and, bing, the stuff is on its way.
The kids were SO thrilled to know that it was heading in the right direction and might help make a few people happy, or at least more comfortable. Next time I suppose it would be wiser to buy things for the local food pantry and send money for the far-away stuff, but this time it worked out really well.
Regarding Tsunamis and Humility
Hurricane Katrina Assistance for Homeschoolers
Seton Home Study Fund for Hurricane Victims
Homeschool Foundation Hurricane Response
Sell Items for Hurricane Relief
American Red Cross
Catholic Charities USA