Let me begin by extending my deepest and most sincere thanks to all of you for your support. The generosity I've witnessed and the love I've felt on Sara and Jeff's behalf has brought me to my knees on more than one occasion.
This morning Sara, Jeff, and my parents ventured back into Sara and Jeff's neighborhood to survey the damage and salvage what they could from the wreckage. While nearly everything was lost, they were able to save their washer and dryer, Sara's piano, and a mattress set, all of which had been tucked away in a corner of the basement. Before calling it a night, they tarped the open areas so that the basement will remain dry (rain is predicted for Wednesday) until the floors can be bulldozed and the area cleared.
While Sara, Jeff, and my parents were working, the Washington Panther High School football team stopped by to lend a hand. At the same time, an NBC Nightly News crew arrived on the scene and interviewed the football team's coach and my brother-in-law, Jeff. The footage aired yesterday evening on the NBC Nightly News and the clip is below if you'd like to take a look. (Jeff is wearing the orange winter hat.)
If you can't see the video, click here.
Because of the outpouring of support we received yesterday, we have stopped collecting in-kind donations for the time being. However, if you and I have already communicated about a donation, please go ahead with whatever we discussed. Once Sara and Jeff have the opportunity to go through everything they've already received I will post an updated in-kind donation list here on the blog.
We are still accepting financial donations through our donation page.
We are also accepting gift cards from stores like Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, and Kroger so that Sara and Jeff can purchase what they need most, when they need it, and can begin to fill the gaps we can't cover with in-kind donations. You can mail gift cards to:
PO Box 472
Metamora, IL 61548
You are still welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. I'm receiving hundreds of emails a day though, so please forgive me if it takes me a few hours to get back to you.
I'd like to close with a round of slightly more specific words of thanks… Thank you to everyone who donated clothing, baby supplies, toys, and books. Thank you to everyone who contributed financially through our donation website. Thank you to everyone who purchased gift cards. Thank you to those who brought bottled water, snacks, and lunch to Sara, Jeff, and my parents yesterday afternoon. Thank you to all those who helped salvage yesterday, including the members of the football team who spent their afternoon clearing rubble instead of practicing for the semi-finals of the State Tournament. Thank you for your phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages. Thank you for your kind words, and for offering to help in any way possible. Thank you for being there for Sara, Jeff, Lily, and Carter.
On a personal note, I'd also like to thank every single person I've ever worked with at the American Red Cross. You have all, in one way or another, helped me develop the skills, gain the experience, and develop the mental toughness I've needed to help my little sister.