Monday, April 22, 2013

West from the Guys

Today we have a "guest blogger". Chris was the initiator of the supply drive for West and he and Matt drove the supplies up to West Thursday night/Friday morning. Here is what he has to say about the amazing project!

 Donation Drive for West, TX 
April 18th and 19th, 2013 

The truck arrived at the house around noon Thursday. I called Ashley Howard that morning and recruited her as our Communications Director. She went into action immediately and emailed, facebooked, texted and called everyone in our community to bring donations by Thursday evening. Big thanks to Ashley for stepping up. 

It started raining when I picked up the truck. Luckily it quit before donations started rolling in. 

The donations started to really come in after everyone got off work. Thanks to everyone that took the time to donate and spread the word. And a special thank you to our small group wives that stepped up and coordinated, ran errands, shopped, picked up, and worked through the afternoon and evening to support the drive. Honestly, I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be enough donations in the short time period. But I gave it over to God, prayed about it, and the response was amazing. 

Loading, about 10 pm, almost finished. We could have stocked a Wal-Mart with the volume and diversity of items donated. 

By Midnight we had a 24’ truck filled about 4’ high with donations for the people of West. After everything was loaded, Matt Howard and I left around midnight and headed to West. We arrived about 3 am, and caught a nap in the truck. It got a little cold, down to about 35F, but for just a few hours. We got up about 7 am, and headed over to the Czech stop for some awesome kolaches and coffee. 

We were then directed to the West Fairgrounds to unload the donations. There we found a donation center crawling with volunteers early in the morning, many of which were high school students. Most everyone was local to the area. 
Ron helped us unload the truck, which took much less time to than to load. About 20 minutes. Ron lives in West, and is a proud member of the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of ’97. We spoke with a friend of Ron’s whose home was in the evacuation area. He had not been allowed back in yet, but knew the windows of the home had been blown out. He was worried that the rain the night before had done more damage. Yet, without a home to sleep in the night before, he was there helping at the donation center. You could really feel that this was a close community and everyone was there to help out. While we were there, we did see some folks come through and pick up supplies. Grocery stores had donated the large banana boxes; those in need came through and picked out whatever they needed from the huge rows of donations. 

I took a final snapshot of the empty truck before we left. It was invigorating to be the hands and feet of God and share our blessings with our brothers and sisters in need. We drove through downtown, but the area affected was still evacuated. We did not get a chance to see any of the destruction. We turned the truck on to I-35 and headed south from West. 

That would be the end of the story, but 15 minutes after we left West (or 12 miles south of West), we had mechanical problems with the truck. I think it blew a head gasket from evidence from the water in the oil. Now we were the ones in need, in need of a new ride home. What started out as a less than 3 hour drive home, turned into an 11 hour adventure. In the end we made it home safely, and as Matt and I kept saying, we were thankful to the Lord the truck broke down after we left, and not on the way there. 

All in all, I am still honored to have been a part of such an amazing and fulfilling day. There is some quiet chatter about a group of guys heading up there to do some manual labor (patching roofs, fixing windows, clearing debris) so I will keep interested parties posted on if that develops any further. Currently, the town of West is asking for monetary donations which can be through an organization or people could use gift cards (like Home Depot) to make the necessary repairs on their homes.

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