We’d just finished the casework and my co-worker and I were getting ready to close up the back of the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). It was painfully cold outside; we’d just given our client a hat and some gloves to help keep her warm while we filled out the paperwork. Her two children waited in their grandmother’s car—a boy of 8 and a girl who turned 4 on that day. No one had been home when the fire started so luckily no one had come to physical harm. Sadly though, hardly any of their possessions would be salvageable. The 8-year-old had come home to the scene looking rather bewildered but it was his mother who was almost inconsolable. The property manager and the leasing office workers came out to see her, promising assistance and getting clothing sizes so that neighbors could donate appropriate items. Despite the difficult circumstance, it seemed the client would have a supportive community.
Before I could close the back doors to the ERV, a neighbor approached us about volunteering with the American Red Cross and we stood for a while in the cold, conversing. She told us that when she and her son had seen what was going on next door, they wanted to help in some way. They had to run some errands and while they were at the store, the son picked out some Matchbox cars for his neighbor friend. That’s why they were there: to give the gift to this little boy, gazing at his destroyed home.
“Why are you giving me these?” the boy had asked them, still trying to take everything in.
“Because you’re our friend,” his neighbors replied, “And we love you.”
They told me that the boy then began to cry. And I remember that when I walked with the client out to the car where her children sat, he had proudly displayed the cars to his mother; his proof that he hadn’t lost everything.
To learn more about how you can help families who have suffered from disaster, click here.