Opinion

Community Members Unite in Wake of Severe Storm

Volunteerism, Compassion Strike Chord in People as Many Hurry to Help Others


volunteerWords cannot begin to describe the sorrow and grief I feel for those that lost a little or everything during Hurricane Sandy.  The images and video footage that most, if not all, of us have seen displays the heartbreak that many along the east coast have had to endure.  Losing a neighborhood, a city, and a home is enough devastation to crush any bit of hope of reconstruction. 

I am thankful to have only lost power for a total of twenty minutes throughout the entirety of the storm. Other than that, my town, home, family, and pets are safe.

When I learned about previous natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the typhoon in Haiti, I thought of life from a new perspective. I imagined it with no home, no warm clothes, no hot meals, no bed, and no hope. 

If I were ever placed in a situation like that, I would want people to care.  When I evaluated the life that I do have, I realized how simple it was to take it for granted. 

No longer did it need to be about me, me, me or I this and I that. I wanted to help those families, animals, towns- everything.  There’s a new kind of spirit and attitude that I had toward life and others after the occurrence of a natural disaster.  I wish I could motivate myself to act in these ways all the time but like many of us, I often find work, school, and stress to be distractions.

Unlike Katrina, Haiti, and the countless other tragedies, Hurricane Sandy hit home.  It destroyed the beaches where my family and I have vacationed ever since I was an infant.  It wrecked train tracks and rail lines that affected work schedules.  It swept away the homes of family and friends.  When I felt that new spirit and attitude of putting my own life on hold to help these victims, I knew I would finally be close enough to help.

The heart of a volunteer has a sense of urgency, selflessness, and unconditional love that knows no bounds.  Statewide, New Jersey has witnessed this firsthand.  Monmouth University itself received donations for the many people it was sheltering.  Volunteering during times of need, such as in the case of Hurricane Sandy, becomes a priority for many people. 

For me, it is a responsibility to help those that have lost so much.  Why? New Jersey is home to me.  It is home to many of you.  Those that endure the pain of loss are neighbors, friends, and family. 

I feel morally obligated to help them. Mitt Romney stated that “it is within the American spirit to help people.”  Giving of ourselves is so much more than many of us realize.

What can each of us do to help the victims of a natural disaster?  Clean up neighborhoods and homes in the affected areas, make physical and monetary donations for victims, work with an organization to host fundraisers or events toward the cause, and prepare meals and snacks for the shelters. 

The opportunities are endless, so volunteer in any way you can.  I know my home state of New Jersey has shined with its efforts to provide shelter, clothing, food, water, and a light at the end of the tunnel to those coping with the hurricane destruction. 

Visit www.redcross.org to make a monetary donation toward Hurricane Sandy relief efforts or www.longbranch.patch.com to help with post-hurricane clean-up in the local area.

Be a hero to those that need one.