My wife and I got the opportunity to spend some more time today working through the ruins in Joplin, Missouri.
There’s more for me to write: I had anticipated on writing about the three stories we encountered today, but those will have to wait a little bit longer. We’ve been out two (not full, but still) days now. We’re both sunburned, even with sunblock. Our muscles are a bit sore and today we battled wind and dust in the eyes all afternoon long.
We are exhausted.
I am not complaining. In fact, I have really enjoyed the work. I merely mention these details to give a glimpse of what it’s like volunteering. I want you to be prepared, because I want you to come help. Before you come, or in case you can’t, here are a few things the volunteers of Joplin can really benefit from. I’m unsure if there are organizations taking care of these items specifically, but I am sure anyone helping Joplin can benefit from them.
Boots on the ground. There’s loads of work to do and it can only get done with people doing the hard, nasty work. By “boots on the ground,” I mean this quite literally. If you’re going to be helping out in the rubble, you’ll need a good pair of work boots. Nails are everywhere and it only takes a misstep to turn you from a volunteer to a first aid recipient. Workers drive around given tetanus shots just in case. I got mine today since it had been too long since my last one.
I’ve been told of reports of people being turned away when they’ve showed up to help. This has not been my experience. Amy and I went to three different locations today, walked up to someone and said “How can we help?” We were instantly off to work.
Gloves, rubber bins, shovels, brooms and sunblock. We showed up ready to work the first day and quickly realized we didn’t have everything we needed. Like boots, I highly recommend leather gloves that fit well and sunblock to help prevent sunburn. But rubber bins, shovels and brooms? These are necessary items to help people recover their belongings and get them out of their former homes before they’re bulldozed and cleared off. Rubber bins are in short supply. A relative who works at Walmart told me “Those rubber bins are flying off the shelves as soon as we get them in.”
Please donate these items.
Money. Your monetary donations to the Red Cross, United Way and tons of other organizations are really needed. But also, supporting remaining businesses in Joplin will go a long way, too. There are some businesses that have been removed from the face of the earth. Others, like Walmart and Home Depot, have vowed to rebuild, but their workers will have to find something else to do in the meantime. I’m not sure how all that works. It will be interesting to see how it pans out for those employees.
Counseling. We attended a church service this morning and my heart broke with the sounds and sights of those weeping over the loss of loved ones. There will be extensive psychological needs that need to be met. Counseling, therapy, hugs from friends and family, the kindness of strangers: these are expensive things. They require time, effort, and “listening ears.” I hope these needs aren’t neglected.
I wish I could write so much more, but my eyes are heavy. We leave here tomorrow and I’m not sure when we can return to help, but I hope there are others who keep the ball rolling.
Until then, I’ve got a few more stories to tell. Stay tuned.