The tornadoes that hit southern Indiana two weeks ago struck too close to home. And I don't mean geographically.
I grew up in Wichita, where tornado sirens blew twice a week in the worst of the season and you didn't really worry until the crazy weather spotters on the radio spotted something on your end of town. I remember clearly the F-5 that hit the suburb of Anderson just before my senior year and how one house, walking distance from my home, was fine, and the next looked stepped on.
I was blessed that when the F-1 hit our one-stoplight town in Kansas in 2001 that it lifted a block from my home. I still remember the train sound, the destruction, the leaves embedded in my plastic lawn chairs and siding. And I remember the little children hysterical in church the next time it stormed.
And of course the former reporter and tornado survivor (a decade ago at work) watched it all unfold on Twitter and the news. And the children were watching.
You forget how much little ones absorb, even when they're playing. So when my daughter wanted to pray for the people in Henryville two days later, I knew we had to do something. Children need to know that they can pray for results, but they also need to know they have the power to make change.
That was when we decided our Daisy Girl Scout troop needed to do something. The funny thing about tornado relief, though, is that organizations aren't equipped immediately to take things. They need food. And water. And shelter. And cleaning supplies. And, ideally, money. All of which would teach the girls nothing, and impose yet another thing for parents to buy.
Several calls and emails later, we found our answer.
Our troop would do a shoe drive, collecting outgrown shoes from our closets for Soles 4 Souls. (As my pastor put it: Kids lose their shoes on a good day!) My hope? Each family could find one pair to donate.
And then it grew. Our church's disaster committee, who I contacted for possible help in donating them, hooked us up with our pastor, who announced it during a sermon on Girl Scout Sunday. (The first-graders were thrilled!) So we made posters and collection boxes. And the word spread.
Each day, I'd tell my daughter: We have 11 more pairs. We have 20 more pairs.
Officially, our drive is over, but a few donations are trickling in. We've easily exceeded 200 pairs of shoes. More than half are going to Osgood, Indiana, with the church disaster committee this weekend. The rest are being shipped to Soles 4 Souls to help other communities in need.
It's an awesome lesson to share with our girls: By yourself you may not be able to do much, but as a team, you can accomplish a lot.