Storms like this bring out the best in us
By Sarah Clavin, Miller Swim School
As I sit here writing, reflecting on this crazy week, I’m staring out at the snow, almost a foot deep. What a glorious sight. The snowflakes falling are the purest of white, detailed beyond imagination. I am incredibly thankful my children have the opportunity to experience the snow this year. The sledding, snowman building, thick glorious snow that childhood makes so magical.
It is not beyond me that I am able to enjoy this beautiful weather from my overheated house on the couch in my living room. There are many for whom the snow poses a deadly threat. For whom the snow is not magical but rather terrifying and tragic. Those without a home, without a heater, those who cannot shelter from the storm.
The wanderers who live on the fray, under the overpass, below the bridge, and in the thickets; it is they who experience tragedy associated with climates like this. We have not seen a winter storm like this since 2010 and while the majority of us were completely unprepared, we united in a force like I’ve never seen before, to ensure that the men, women, and children who live without homes were sheltered, fed and clothed.
Ministries worked alongside churches and the TPD, searching day and night for those who were most at risk in our communities. Individuals bundled up head to toe spent countless hours in the subfreezing temperatures seeking out people living on the streets and in the woods and transporting them to shelters. Dozens of volunteers have scoured the city and its suburbs to bring in as many individuals as possible.
Churches opened their doors as makeshift temporary shelters equipped with bedding and facilities and food. Local restaurants have provided hundreds of meals, volunteers have sorted and distributed thousands of Amazon packages that were anonymously purchased by members of the community; sleeping bags, winter clothing, hygienic products, and more.
A friendship fund was established with the hope of raising $1200 yet in a mere 48 hours, through hundreds of shares on social media, raised over $140,000 dollars to house the homeless in local hotel rooms across the city. Hotel owners offered their rooms below cost for the week so that at risk individuals who need to stay in a room alone or with their small family can do so. Families citywide have donated games, sleeping bags, and ready-made meals to each of the shelters.
I could go on and on about the provisions made, but what has impacted me the most is how people gave. Not only did they give of their time, but their comfort, and their finances. The selfless sacrifice many made, without a second thought or a moment of hesitation, to ensure that the city’s most vulnerable were cared for during this storm.
So take heart Jenks, there is goodness all around you. Hope and selflessness are deep in our roots and I pray we continue to give with grace and mercy. When you look out at the snow tonight, remember how it brought out the best in all of us. Or I hope you’ll reflect on how the magic of the snow brought out the compassion and benevolence in all of us.