Giving Back & Looking Ahead at Hurricanes

As I write this all eyes in my state, Florida, are keeping watch on Hurricane Irma, a nasty storm that experts say may bulk up to a Category 5 monster, fed by the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, ready to strike the East Coast of the United States by the weekend. That’s scary stuff.

It comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, a storm blamed for dozens of deaths and widespread flooding and devastation in East Texas. The images of the human suffering have challenged us all and left us asking, “What would I do in a similar situation?” Those of us in Florida are hoping that we don’t find out. But one thing that I do know is that if my community or my state suffers a natural disaster like Harvey there will be many people who will step up to help. That’s one of the great silver linings of these tragedy’s — the way our fellow man steps up in a crisis to provide a tiny sliver of hope amidst a seemingly endless stream of bleak and unforgiving pain and grief.

Last weekend my wife and I took our kids to a local store to buy some items that a local charity is gathering to send to Texas. We bought what we could and let our kids pick out some items for children who might cherish an uplifting moment and we took it to a distribution center. Our goal was two-fold. One, help those in need and two, show our children that when people are hurting, we can do something to help. It’s that spirit of altruism that we want to cultivate and instill in our children. We try to do it throughout our daily lives — giving to our church, donating items for back-to-school drives, doing small service projects in our community and donating our time for various functions. We’re not unique. Many people do the same thing — and much more, to be honest.

Our kids felt empowered handing over the supplies we bought for Harvey victims. It made them feel like they were doing something to make a small but significant difference in the lives of people enduring a personal hell. And now, our kids, ages 7 and 5, are asking all sorts of questions about Hurricane Irma. Could we be next? Could our neighborhood or our city be the next one on the news with scenes of destruction?

We reassure our children that we’ve taken all the preparations that we can — loading up on food and supplies, making sure that our home is as protected as it can be and that we’ve got a plan if things get bad. My late grandfather swore by the notion that a child should not see their parents afraid. To him, that would only add to a child’s anxiety and sense of foreboding. Rather, if a child could be reassured by seeing a parent in control, that would be beneficial for all. It’s a fine line because I don’t believe in lying to my kids but I also see the value in making sure my kids can feel that they are safe and protected. We’ll see how that works out if things go sideways.

It’s always a fraught time when you face a potential crisis, especially when children are involved. We pray that Hurricane Irma takes a path out of the way of any land and people. We also know that if the worst happens, there are good, kind and compassionate people who stand ready to help.

Photo credit: europeanspaceagency via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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