Atlantic City, New Jersey
November 13, 2012
The Superstorm’s force was like a 300 pound NFL linebacker tackling a high school cheerleader. That’s when we called in our relief lineup – a crew of Save the Children volunteers dedicated to helping kids affected by natural disasters.
The first to arrive were teams from Church Communities International. They literally did a lot of the heavy lifting. Hauling boxes of kid-friendly supplies all over affected areas of New Jersey, they loaded boxes of relief items such as baby shampoo, diapers, blankets, books – and footballs! Yes, footballs.
Kids in shelters lack healthy exercise and fun. That’s why a key part of our work is the Child-Friendly Space program – a safe place where kids can be kids. Our volunteers also helped staff the Child-Friendly Spaces. These trained, caring adults create an environment where kids can work through difficult emotions as a result of the storm and increase their ability to “bounce back”.
Matthieu was one of the older kids in the Child-Friendly Space. He picked up a football from the toy box and began tossing it like he was looking for a pick-up game. That’s when a bunch of the volunteers had the great idea to rally the kids for a game of catch. It went on for quite a while, but the kids said the time flew by. “This was the best day ever,” said Matthieu, out of breath from play.
Later that night, some of the volunteers were told they were rotating out – a new crew was coming in to tackle the work. When he heard the news he would be leaving, one young man who had been playing ball looked down at the table. When I turned to see his face, he wiped away tears. Having felt that way before, we all knew he was going to miss the wonderful kids.
I want to use this blog post to thank all of our volunteers, truly some of the most valuable players in emergency response.
If you want to volunteer for Save the Children, please check out our volunteer opportunities online.
Hopefully, Matthieu will soon be back to playing ball in his own backyard. Kids like Matthieu need caring people to support Save the Children’s long termresponse efforts. Please give generously to our Hurricane Sandy Relief fund.