Disaster Recovery Stories

The Blessing Business

Story & photos by Laura Reinhardt / © World Vision

Record-breaking heat across the southeast didn't keep the residents of Holt—a community just outside of Tuscaloosa, Ala.—from World Vision's Holt Day of Caring. The July 30 distribution marked World Vision's ongoing disaster response following the tornado that devastated much of Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas on April 27, 2011.

 

 

Making Connections

Rick Miltimore, World Vision's national director of resources and relief, said the humanitarian organization "plays a unique role in being the connector between those that want to give, corporations that want to give and get engaged, and the church body that wants to come in and donate and be part of it. We sit in the center of that and bring it all together and make it possible to serve these kids."

The Day of Caring demonstrated that powerful partnership as community members, corporations, and churches joined forces to support the people of Tuscaloosa.

Donations from corporate partners included a gift for World Vision's relief and recovery efforts, specifically to help stock World Vision's Teacher Resource Center with supplies for Tuscaloosa schools.

Tuck's RUSH for Literacy—a foundation established by pro football star Justin Tuck of the New York Giants and his wife, Lauran—donated funds during his April visit to Tuscaloosa to purchase backpacks and school supplies for Holt children.

Donors offered toys, games, and books for the community's school-aged children. Each child also got to pick out a pair of brand-new shoes. A total of 101 volunteers donated 433 hours to help make the day a success.

Earlier this year, volunteers packed 300 hygiene kits for junior high and high school students attending the day's event.

 

What the Day of Caring Means to the Community

Most of the rubble left by the tornado is gone. Some houses still stand, but many more have vanished. In the face of that, it's even more important for the children of Holt to know that people care.

"It means everything. Every little bit helps. It saves money because we're trying to get our house situated. We're grateful, very grateful for the help," said Freddie Hall, a mom.

Rachel Fairchild, 26, said that even though they still have their home—minus their roof—her children can't go outside and play. There's too much wreckage outside for them to be safe while playing. The storm left an emotional mark on her three boys. Each of them regressed to a younger age due to the trauma.

The Event

More than 800 children were served on the Holt Day of Caring. Families started at one tent to get age-appropriate toys and games for their children, then moved to another tent to pick out canvas shoes.

Many of the children lingered under the First Book tent. One little boy sat down and started reading his book, refusing to heed his mother's pleas to continue on. At the last tent, each child received a backpack filled with school supplies and a handwritten note by the volunteer who packed it.

One note addressed the trauma faced by each of the families: "Friend, I can only imagine what these last days have been like for you. Please know that you are all in our thoughts and in our prayers."

'The Blessing Business'

Many parents agreed that the help with school supplies was especially appreciated as they struggled to try to rebuild their lives.

"Thank you, not just for me and my family, but for all the families whose home were destroyed; the families who were not able to buy for their children. It means so much and we want to thank all of them for what all they have done," said Sandra Green, 44, "This is a great contribution to help this community—for the families, for the people who lost."

The dedication of World Vision, its corporate partners, and the volunteers all combined to help her realize, she said, that "God is still in the blessing business."

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