Touched by a Twister
Like so many of us, Anthem resident Sandi Greene sat glued to her television set and watched the devastation that ensued after an EF5 tornado tore through the small community of Moore, Oklahoma May 20. Her heart broke.
It was reminiscent of so many other disasters that touched her the same way: Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Japan and Haiti, and 9/11. She felt helpless in the face of such devastation. What could she possibly do … pray and send a $10 check to the Red Cross?
Soon, that helplessness turned into hopefulness. She heard from a friend, Jennifer, who lives just outside of Moore. Jennifer posted on Facebook that her friend lost his house – it was found three blocks away. When Sandi asked if she could do anything, Jennifer responded that she needed boys’ clothes. Sandi decided to ask around for additional donations, posting a request on Facebook. In turn, many of Sandi’s friends reposted the message.
Sandi said, “Within 24 hours I had dozens of emails and texts from people wanting to give me donations to forward to Oklahoma. I told Jennifer it was going to be way too expensive to ship everything I had already collected. I jokingly said, ‘How long would it take to meet halfway?’” From that point, a plan was hatched.
Sandi continued to accept the donations that come so freely from Anthemites when anyone is in need. Within another day, her garage was filled with items from all over Arizona. Sandi said, “The power of social media overwhelmed me, but the power of generosity moved me even more.
“Friends came over to my house and loaded the trailer with the donations – clothes, toiletries, baby items, shoes, bedding, cards created by kids and much more. One little girl even gave me $20 to pass on. One of the neighbors came over with donations and told me how his house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, so he wanted to give back.”
Donations came in forms other than clothing and monetary donations. The manager at the Anthem U-Haul gave Sandi a deeply discounted trailer, and someone else offered their SUV for the trip. Someone else covered gas and the hotel, and even a hotel manager offered a great discount when he heard about the purpose of Sandi’s journey.
Sandi made the trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico with a friend, Autumn. They stayed a night and met Jennifer and her husband the next morning. They transferred everything from her trailer to theirs, and it was toted to a non-profit organization in Oklahoma.
While Jennifer and her husband didn’t suffer the level of devastation and loss that their neighbors had, they were touched by Arizona’s willingness to jump in and help. Jennifer said to Sandi, “I really can’t believe how the people in Arizona have given.”
The major project that grew out of a personal response to someone in need taught Sandi much about willingness to give. Sandi said, “Giving creates a bond between people. It teaches our kids to give and be thankful for what they have. For me, it dissolved some of my negative thought patterns and instead put focus on a purpose. It helps us to realize if we lost everything in a second and only were left with the clothes on our backs, we would want others to help us.
“We might not always be able to help Oklahoma or another place when disaster strikes, but we can make a difference right where we are in our communities when we see needs come about. Anyone can make change and make a difference; you’ve just got to step up and out of yourself.”