The last three weeks have been truly amazing. The outpouring of support and donations for the flood victims has been astonishing. And most of the donations have been truly useful – personal hygiene supplies, cleaning materials, tools, etc.
But, as in the best of times, there are some people who just think this is a dandy time to get rid of the junk that’s been accumulating in their attic. A relief worker who volunteered to do hurricane clean-up in Florida a few years ago told me someone had “donated” used ice skates. Ice skates in Florida!
We have been pretty hard-nosed at CRC about rejecting anything that was not truly useful. People have wanted to bring us bag upon bag of used clothing. Denied. We don’t have time to sort it and throw out the stuff that would be an insult to give a flood victim. Our rule is if you wouldn’t give the clothes to your children or parents, you cannot give them to us.
Used dishes? Please. No. Old sheets? C’mon now. Dog-eared paperback books? Are you kidding me? Do you think people right now need paperback books? No they do not.
What people need right now, first of all, is a sense of seeing some dim light at the end of the tunnel. They need to know that their houses will be repaired. Most homes affected by the flooding have been cleared out. Now they need to be rebuilt from the studs up. Who’s going to do that and how will we know those construction people are trust worthy? The sad fact is there are a lot of scammers out there who will think nothing of taking advantage of some poor soul who doesn’t know drywall from pasteboard.
People who can rebuild themselves will need hammers, nails, lumber, paint and brushes – the basic non-sexy stuff that will get the job done. They will need a source of furniture and appliances. We’re starting to work on that.
They will NOT need your Aunt Fanny’s old chenille robe or your Uncle Walter’s record player.
To illustrate, I give you a donation from school children over the weekend. School children get it. They gathered tools, caulk, paint rollers, sponges, duct tape, tape measures and dust masks. Useful stuff. Important stuff. They wrote us a letter.
The images are heartbreaking, but together we can overcome the devastation and move forward, a little stronger than we already are. And God knows how strong the people of Tennessee are. God bless every one of you. We are Nashville.