On November 17, we were at a Sunday brunch in a nice restaurant when the lights went out. A big storm was passing through. The electricity still flickered back on, but the computers started beeping and the once busy restaurant emptied quickly after that. As we drove home, listening to the radio, I was worried about what we would find. We were an hour away and have had bad experiences with flooding after crazy rainstorms. Fortunately, since we had our willow tree cut down this fall, I didn’t need to worry about a large tree falling down on our house!
What we did hear on the radio was even more worrisome, however. Tornadoes had been forming all over the state of Illinois, Soldier Field was evacuated during the Bears game, and a tornado had touched down near Peoria, where my sister lives.
One of the first things I did was call my sister to make sure she and her husband were okay. They were fine, but a tornado had destroyed a large portion of Washington, Illinois, just ten miles away from where they live.
The next Monday, I received an email from Lily’s 3rd grade teacher. She is from Washington, and while her friends and family were safe, some were affected by the tornado. One family she knows had to relocate to a hotel because their home was unsafe. And they were lucky; many people’s homes simply didn’t exist anymore. I showed Lily and Emmy some photos in the newspaper, but I had a feeling they just couldn’t comprehend what had happened. It’s difficult for Ed and me as adults to imagine what it’s like to lose everything.
Our teacher’s friend’s little girl needed a backpack. Lily, Emmy and I went to the store right after school. They carefully considered which backpack and lunch box the little girl would like the most. (She is in first grade, Emmy’s age.) Then we chose school supplies that she would need to have at home to do homework or to use just for fun; crayons, scissors, markers, paper, etc. Lily and Emmy also made a special card for the little girl.
Parent/Teacher conferences were the following week, and Lily’s teacher showed us a picture of the little girl reading Lily and Emmy’s card. Seeing that little girl smiling and holding her new backpack and the card really made a connection for Lily and Emmy…and for me!
Lisa over at The Golden Spoons has challenged us to do just ONE thing this holiday season. This story just happens to be one thing that we did to help our Illinois neighbors this year. I know that if we were ever in a difficult situation, our neighbors would lend us a helping hand. Whether it’s giving your time to someone, making a stranger smile, or donating to a good cause, together we can spread a little hope, peace, joy and love to others this year!