"Grown folk" have a tendency to underestimate the empathy, generosity, and determination of a child. We've all done it. I'm happy to report that the Miller kids (and many, many other kids in our community) are schooling the grown ups. And when I say schooling, I really mean showin' 'em how it's done.
Over the past two days, my sweet, smart Javi has amazed me. He held the flashlight while I combed through our attic for clothing donations (before power was restored), helped carry in bags and boxes at donation sites (and not just our donations, but also those of other people who came in after us), and spent hours sorting and bagging up toiletries for us to deliver to the areas in need.
When I asked him if he'd like to go to a friend's house or hang at home to get a break from the volunteer work, he begged me to let him keep helping. In fact, he asked when we were going to go clear land and remove debris. Apparently, we weren't volunteering hard enough thought we fed 70 people, got 3 pallets full of tarps delivered to distribution points, collected boxes of Easter basket supplies (for a drive we're co-running), and delivered 40 kits (with another 60 delivered by our network).
And then there's Bella, who proved her baby years are behind her. She has mostly played with other children at the different work sites and helped with light labor -- up until tonight. We spent four hours at a church that's servicing a hard-to-reach area with intense devastation and little Bella spent a good portion of that time working.
I'm talking removing toiletries from their packaging, sorting the toiletries by category, and making kits to deliver. Homegirl can bag up a mean baby or little girl kit (because you know those are the ones she insisted she make). When it was time for us to leave, she did so only on the condition that we come right back for breakfast.
All this to say: They are an inspiration to me. No bickering, no whining, and no begging. Just a ready smile and an urge to help. For our family, this is healing. We volunteer, we help, we make it happen. When we got lunch taken care of for workers and families, Javi threw his hands up and exclaimed, "I sure am glad we figured that out! Do we know who's bringing dinner?"
I couldn't be more proud.
(Please note that we will be attending a trauma/grief counseling session as a family tomorrow night. Javi and Bella seem to be working through their issues by talking about it a lot with us and our network of friends who are also helping. This is somewhat normal to them because we volunteer often as a family, but I know we all need some special mental- and emotional-health services right now.)
***To aid my town of Sanford in Lee County NC, you can make online donations to the Lee County American Red Cross via the Lee County United Way's website. Use zip code 27330. You will not be charged any fees and 100 percent of this donation goes to the local Red Cross.
***Amazing professional photographs available here and here.
***This week only, you can access our local paper -- The Sanford Herald -- online for free. They are doing an amazing job with coverage!