celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘tornado

This past week was a whirlwind. Literally. Wednesday afternoon, all afternoon activities were cancelled due to the threat of severe weather. I raced out of work to pick up my youngest from daycare, then headed straight home to hunker down with the rest of my children.

My daughter is deathly afraid of thunderstorms and tornados. Maybe it’s because we used to live in Memphis, TN and I had to place her in a closet for safety one too many times. Perhaps she can still recall the shelter-in-place drills at her daycare center, her small hands barely wide enough to cover her head as she cowered under a table in a tight ball. Whatever the reason, I knew that she would be anxious, so I wanted to get home as soon as possible.

The sky was overcast, but not a drop of precipitation was falling from the sky as I drove. By the time I got to the daycare center, the winds were starting to pick up, but nothing outrageous. A few raindrops finally splattered on my windshield as I pulled into my driveway.

It was February. In Virginia. I still had the snow boots lined up in the hall from the foot of snow that finally melted from a few weeks before. A thunderstorm this time of year was hard to imagine. A tornado? Unfathomable. We just don’t get weather like that.

Twenty minutes later, I saw these images on TV and quickly gathered my three children to squeeze into a narrow hall closet.

IMG_4819

IMG_4822

We were lucky. Our home was spared with no damage. The storm had passed and we left our cramped closet, breathing a sigh of relief. I opened my Facebook app and saw dozens of photos from friends doing the same thing as me, trying to make the best of a scary situation. I saw snapshots of kids in bathtubs with pillows, dogs and cats lying on tile floors, board games and snacks. Then I saw a photo that made me gasp.

IMG_4887

I actually did a double-take. Was that a door ripped from the frame of Kenneth’s upstairs room? I scrolled through his posting and saw image after image of the damage to his home. Doors blown off. Windows with shattered glass. Trees on cars and boats in trees. Even the crack in his hallway wall ominously told the story of what just happened.

IMG_4888

It could have been so much worse.

It was so much worse.

The next few days would reveal the destruction across the state.

IMG_4874

IMG_4882

There were 3 deaths in Waverly. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around what had just happened.

And then, just as quickly as the storm blew its way through our town, the generosity of others poured in.

IMG_4848

 

IMG_4849

 

IMG_4851

 

As Thursday came and the weekend approached, I noticed other people offering up their kindness in the midst of such unspeakable tragedy:

IMG_4843

 

IMG_4883

IMG_4846

 

IMG_4840

 

IMG_4867

 

It’s nice to know that in the face of desperation and despair, there are good people around to lend a hand and make a difference. I am blessed to live in such a supportive community! May we always take the opportunity to help when we can, for there may come a time when we will be the ones in need.

Advertisements

This week, I was delighted to participate in a Random Act of Kindness to benefit “A Heart for Oklahoma”, a church based mission to bring supplies to those suffering from the effects of last week’s tornado.  What made this RAK especially close to my heart is that it was organized and led by one of my high school friend’s daughter, Claire Belfield Henry, a homeschooled 7th grader who has also captured the Junior Miss Mechanicsville crown.  (You can read more about the mission here.)

They were collecting basic health and beauty supplies to personally deliver to Oklahoma which was GREAT because I had received donations of these items from friends!  I love when God works out details like that!  Here is the basket I created to donate to this project.  It contained shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, tooth brushes, dental floss and picks, deodorant, heating pads, nail clippers, body wash, soap, lotion, and cleansing wipes.

supplies

I drove to my local Kroger and there was Claire with another gal, Michelle, from her church.  Her delightful smile was contagious as she thanked me for my donation.  “Wow!  It looks so pretty!” she exclaimed.  She could have easily won an award for Miss Congenialty as her conversation with me was inviting, purposeful, and filled with excitement for her project.   She allowed me to take a few photos for the blog (which I knew her Momma would approve!)

stand

Their collection site outside of Kroger

girls

The girls with my basket of donations

I went inside the store to tackle my never ending grocery list.  As I stood in the checkout line, I thought again of Claire and Michelle.  How wonderful to be so involved with giving at such an early age!  I decided to reward their hard work with a bag of Skittles candy (which was a little inside joke because Claire’s mom is going to make my daughter a Skittles cake for her next birthday party.)  As I made my way out of Kroger and towards her donation stand, I realized another young girl had shown up to share in the donation table duties.  Without hesitation, I turned right back into Kroger and bought more Skittles so that ALL the girls could share in some simple delights for their labor.

skittles

I took an opportunity to have my photo taken with local royalty, too.  😉

royalty

This RAK is dediated to Jessica Rekos, age 6, whose parents described their daughter as a “mini CEO”.  She sounded just like Claire.  These two girls shared a passion for helping others, but doing it in an organized, efficient way.  I could easily imagine Jessica doing something as grand as this mission.  I am always humbled when I see such leadership skills in our children.  Their self confidence is inspiring!!  I hope Jessica’s parents know that her spirit lives on in other “mini CEOs” around the world.

Thanks for sharing in my joy of giving.  Be blessed, my friends and have a wonderful weekend!  🙂

Where do I even begin?

I have tried to write this post several times over the past 72 hours to no avail. It seems with each RAK I complete, more madness, more sadness enters this world. I find it very difficult to share the simplest of blessings, overwhelmed by the grief of tragedy and loss. On Sunday, I completed RAK #12 of #26 acts. Nothing big, just a little show of kindness that blessed a stranger. On Monday I heard about the devastating tornado in Oklahoma that obliterated an entire town, including an elementary school. How could I possibly write about my RAK… something so basic, so “no big deal” in the face of such destruction and shock?

On Tuesday I received a post notification written by the husband of a sweet friend of mine, detailing the impending passing of his wife from this life to the next. Mel, just a few years older than me, was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer eight months ago, the same month I underwent testing for breast cancer. Today she passed away.

Why? How? Why? The questions circle in an everlasting turnabout, stuck in my mind. Why do bad things have to happen? How can anything I do possibly make a difference? Why would anyone want to take the time to read my little RAKs when there are so many other things to ponder in this world?

And yet RAKs do make a difference. And you do read my posts. Maybe because we know there is no answer to question number one.

It’s funny in a way how God speaks to me sometimes. Maybe you are not a believer in God, but I am. I hear his voice on my heart in the most unassuming situations. Right before learning about the tornados on Monday, I discovered this video on You Tube. (You can skip through the commercial in the beginning after a few seconds). I held it together until I realized it was all focused in a hospital and that’s where my dying friend was spending her final hours. When the words “Just signed DNR” appeared on the screen, I was done. I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. Then later that night, I heard about the tornado. More tears.

This morning, after reading about my friend’s passing, I saw this quote in my FB newsfeed:

quote

I had to laugh. It is EXACTLY how I would expect Mel to respond had I made the statement to her. Kindness is ALWAYS a big deal!! No matter how small it may seem in your eyes, it’s a big deal to someone else. I like to think it’s a big deal to God, too. Aren’t we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?

So that realization is what has pulled me out of my blog post slump. Kindness matters.

Random Act of Kindness #12 is a simple act, completely random, and nothing more than being kind to a stranger. We were eating at a serve-yourself style pizza restaurant following my daughter’s dance recital. As I was making my salad, I noticed an eldery woman with beautiful white hair and cane pushing her tray near mine. She was moving slowly, carefully, but despite her best intentions, the tray wobbled and her empty water cup fell right into the heap of spaghetti sauce she had placed on her spaghetti. Without a moment’s hesitation, I reached over and grabbed the cup off her tray. “Let me clean this off for you!” I walked away towards the drink counter to grab some napkins when another simple thought spoke to my heart. “Fill her cup.” I returned to the lady with her now cleaned cup, but instead of placing it on her tray, I asked what kind of drink she wanted. “I will fill it for you!” She smiled and spoke gently, “Water, please.”

lady

When I returned to her in the line, she was struggling to balance her cane and her tray while reaching across to maneuver a slice of pizza off the counter. Glancing down, I realized she never grabbed an empty plate! (The plate on her tray was completely filled with spaghetti and sauce.) Instinctively I ran to the end of the line, grabbed a plate and placed it right underneath the gooey pizza, mere moments before it slid off the unbalanced spatula. “Oh my! I didn’t even think about a plate!” she exclaimed as I breathed as sigh of relief. (THAT could have been a mess!)

I laughed a little, then grabbed her tray. “Do you want more pizza or are you ready to sit? I can carry your tray for you!” She was completely shocked, taking several seconds to process what I had just asked. “Are you sure you don’t mind? That’s very kind of you.” She pointed to the table where her family was sitting and I walked with her as she hobbled with her cane. “Thank you! Thank you so much! So sweet.” (Below is a photo I took of her at her table a little bit later.)

lady2

As I turned to make my way back to the salad bar (I had simply left my salad plate right there in the line, lol), I caught the eye of my daughter who had witnessed the entire event. In the brief moment of connection, her smile was simply an extension of my own, radiating the joy of simple kindness.

This RAK is dedicated to Madeleine Hsu, age 6, who like my daughter was “a shy little girl who always seemed to have a smile on her face.” My dear friend Mel had a smile that radiated, too. I hope Madeleine’s family can find comfort in knowing that even the smallest acts of kindness are being done in her memory.

Share the gift of love with others. Our time here is brief, dear friends, but we truly can make a difference.


Follow celebrate kindness on WordPress.com

Blog Stats

  • 46,007 hits
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: