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Posts Tagged ‘Volunteering’

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An EF-5 tornado ripped through the town of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th in the afternoon. Twenty-three people died and hundreds were injured.  Another person died of something related to the tornado.  And as I started writing this, I read in the paper that a 25th person has now died due to injuries related to the tornado.  We are constantly reminded of the tragedies that occurred that day.

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Homes and schools were destroyed. But the town and the courage and resiliency of the people live on. Moore is like so many towns in the Midwest. The people are strong. Nothing will beat them down. I knew this from watching the news and seeing the people helping absolute strangers clear their property that had been destroyed by the tornado.  And I saw it in the eyes of the parents, struggling to comfort their children or the children of others as they awaited news of their own.  It was heart-wrenching.

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Watching the news reports, I felt that I needed to do something.  Yet, who am I?  I am just a single person…no organizations backing what I choose to do.  And I live over 8 hours away in south Texas.  Yet, I still felt I had to DO something.  I didn’t mean donating money.  I always wonder just how much is actually helping those who need help.  And how much is lining the pockets of those running the organizations.  So, I stewed over it and decided there WAS something I could do.  I could donate Pampered Chef products so the families can start making meals again.  Food is comfort.

So I spoke to my mother.  And she said a friend she has in Oklahoma City has a son who lost his home.  And they know other families who’ve lost everything.  I knew then that I was going to send packages to them.  And then it steamrolled!  My mother placed an order and so did I.  The packages arrived at the home of my mother’s friend and they were thrilled to hand over all the goodies inside to those families.  But then I mentioned to other Pampered Chef consultants I know that I was trying to help 3 families.  And they donated extra products they had…cookware, tools, plates, cookbooks…on and on.  And I remembered a full-size afghan I had.  It was thick and plush.  I donated that.  And I found more products in my cabinets.  Suddenly, I realized it was going to cost a fortune to mail all of that.

My sweet husband suggested we drive up on a Saturday and deliver it, spend the night in a hotel and drive back on Sunday.  He gave up his weekend of relaxation to hit the road with me.  We both felt humbled to be able to take all of the wonderful donations my friends had provided and deliver them to Moore.

On July 6th, we left early in the morning and drove all day.  My mother’s friend called us and asked us to come to dinner at her home.  Although I had never met these people, they made us feel so at home, treating us like family.  And after dinner, they took us on a tour of the devastation in Moore.  They showed us the path of the tornado and the freakish destruction.  Houses were demolished on one side of a street and almost fully intact on the other, with just a few shingles missing from the roof.  Businesses were destroyed.  Memorials to the lives lost were everywhere I looked.

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And then we visited the site of the Plaza Towers Elementary School.  My heart broke.

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The memorial grows and grows with each passing day.  And the townspeople of Moore will rebuild.  And their will remains strong.  God bless Moore and the families who were affected in so many ways.  I still feel the need to do more.  And I will.  It makes my heart feel just a tiny bit less broken.

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“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Unknown

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So, I read this blog by Sarah Smiles Awhile: Seven Things That Are Underrated (if you ask me)…. and am totally ready to create my own list.  The only problem is, I would have to steal at least 3 of hers.  Not creative on my part, but totally truthful. 

1. I agree that those limp handshakes by some women remind me of holding onto a dead fish (yes, I have done that–hold onto a dead fish, I mean).  No limp handshakes from me.  I despise them. 

2. And there is nothing better than sending or receiving a handwritten letter via snail mail.  It’s such a refreshing experience to open the mailbox and NOT find a bill, a piece of junk mail or catalog or that (currently) inevitable piece of political propaganda coming from one of several candidates for office.   I’m all for getting mail that makes me smile…awhile. 

3. And then, there’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (otherwise known as Triple D).  I watch and re-watch episodes and when visiting new areas of the country, I seek out places that have been featured.  Invariably, I enjoy myself.  So, thanks, Sarah Smiles – for the reminder and the inspiration.  Now, here’s my list (or the remainder of my list):

4.  The soft breath of my cat, curled up on the bed next to me, whiskers brushing my neck as I read a good book on a rainy afternoon. 

My little baby, Tang, snoozing away on a rainy day.

Nothing makes me feel more content.  I can’t imagine being more relaxed.

 5.  The joy of making something for someone else…with my own hands.  Either a crafty thing, a baked thing or a whole meal.  It’s such a pleasure to do for someone else, when they least expect it.  Not for a birthday or an anniversary or because they are celebrating a new job.  Just to celebrate that they ARE. 

6. Paying it forward.  Yes, a trendy thing, but it feels soooooooooo good.  To do something for a total stranger and just imagine the surprise when they receive whatever it is you’ve done for them.  And then not telling ANYONE you did it.  That is your secret.  Your joy.  No one else’s to weaken the gift you’ve given.  Because by telling someone, are you not seeking recognition?  Then it isn’t as powerful.  Doing something for someone in need and then telling no one is much more amazing.

7. A sad movie.  The cathartic release after crying over a sad movie.  It draws out all that pent-up emotion.  Enough said.

Thanks, Sarah Smiles.  You’ve given me a lot to think about. 

What are your Seven Things That Are Underrated?

“The best thing in life aren’t things.”~ John Ruskin

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I was reading an article in one of my favorite magazines…Taste of Home.  Yep, I love to cook and subscribe to several magazines that have recipes in them.  But Taste of Home beats them all…a magazine dedicated to cooking!  Love it!

This particular article, though, struck another love.  I love our soldiers who give up so much to do their duty.  And they appreciate any little thing.  What makes me sad is that some of our soldiers don’t get much mail…or any mail.  Well, this article in Taste of Home was such an inspiration, that I wanted to spread the word.  There is a woman who blogs about baking (Susan’s blog) and she asked some of her followers to send goodie packages to her cousin who had deployed to Iraq.  She was amazed to find out he didn’t get the 4-5 packages she thought would arrive.  He received SIXTY boxes!  On that day, Operation Baking GALS (Give a Little Support) was born.  She created a new website called bakinggals.com and people can search through the list of soldiers who are waiting for baked goodies.

Please spread the word.  Our soldiers still need our support.  We cannot forget them, because time has passed since the beginning of this war.  Please think of our soldiers and find ways to thank them.  If you can’t bake, find someone who can and help them by donating the packaging and time going to the post office. 

And thanks to Susan for starting such a wonderful thing.

“Look up, and not down; Out and not in; Forward and not back; And lend a hand.” ~ Edward Everett Hale

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Well, I worked on a post on Friday and hit enter. After that, I logged off and went to bed. Yesterday, I was so busy I wasn’t here. Now I log on to find that all the jabbering I did in that post is gone..as if it never happened. Strange. It’s too bad we can’t go back in our lives and erase real-world jabbering as easily…as if it never happened. Is there anything you’ve ever said that you wish would disappear into cyber-space or some black hole and never have been heard? I’m sure we all do, but there are also those times I’m sure we also wish we’d said something we didn’t. I look back on my life and there are so many times I should have shoved a sock in my mouth instead of my foot! I guess maybe the cyber-gods thought my post just shouldn’t be read. Image I also can think of times I should have said something and let the silence take over…or just didn’t say the important stuff. I just filled that silence with something inane.

Yesterday was such a fun day. It started out with sleeping in a bit. I love weekends for that. Then we got up and lazed around some. After a humorous call from my mother, I got busy with some laundry and a little housework and then got ready to go to the Texas Folklife Festival. Beau and I spent about 2 hours walking around to the different booths, eating, looking at handicrafts, eating some more, listening to music (the bagpipers were fantastic!) and then headed to GATE 4 to do our volunteering. We were ticket takers at the gate and closed out the festival for the night. At 11pm, we headed home on the shuttle bus to the park and ride location where we’d left the car. This was when the magic of the night came to a halt. There was a very, very loud woman on the bus who felt the need to fill all of us in on what she’d done at the festival, the fact that she was going back again today and little tidbits of her life, too. Of course, this was all a conversation between her and some of her companions who were seated across from her on the other side of the bus and several rows ahead. Needless to say, I began to think we should have driven the whole way and risked finding a parking spot near the festival! But we got home around midnight and fell into bed, exhausted. All in all, a fun adventure!!

Today, back to what needs to get done instead of my playtime. I’m making the shopping list, finishing laundry and doing some work today that I can’t seem to get done when people are in the office. So a few hours of “overtime” should take care of that this afternoon in the empty office. Soon, the weekend will also disappear and I’ll be back to that reality called the “work week”. [Heavy sigh…]

“Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.” ~ John Shirley

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