2 Big Things: Anatomy of a Small Relief Effort, Part 1

My friends David and Meghan Rowe are staging a relief effort this Saturday in their restaurant parking lot for the tornado victims of Joplin, and they asked for my help. We are collecting hygiene items and bottled water. None of us have done anything like this before. I’m writing stuff down that I learn along the way.

“I want to do something.”

That’s what David said when my phone rang on Monday morning – fourteen hours after the tornado unleashed hell on Joplin, Missouri.

But we should cut that off before it starts, shouldn’t we? It didn’t unleash hell on Joplin, exactly. It unleashed hell on the people, pets, homes, hopes and dreams of the southwestern Missouri city. To say the city name alone somehow impersonalizes it.


This is most certainly personal.

David and Meghan wanted to do something. They wanted my help.


None of us are wealthy or famous. We don’t have instant access to resources or staff to marshal together a plan even if we could come up with one.

So, I did the only thing I knew how to do: reached out to people smarter than me.

My friend Sarah Hill of KOMU TV suggested I reach out to Tim Rich of The Heart of Missouri United Way who suggested I reach out to Peggy Kirkpatrick of The Food Bank For Central & Northeast Missouri.

It was about this time that I smacked myself on the head for not thinking to make Peggy my first call.

When the Mt. Rushmore of central Missouri’s erected, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who wouldn’t put Peggy up there.

A whirling dervish of smiles, hugs, common sense and action, Peggy and her Director of Development, Bobbie Kincade, came to our aid yesterday morning.

They recognized two boys who were nice but none-too-bright.

As we (and by ‘we,’ I mean Peggy and Bobbie) began to hash out our plan for not only collection but staging and distribution, I started taking notes on the smart stuff Peggy was saying.

Food bank web

It filled four pages.


But, in the awful chance you’re faced with having to stage such a relief effort yourself, here are two things Peggy said that stuck with me above all else:

1) If all you get’s a bar of soap and three bucks, you’ve made a difference. People in need can use a bar of soap and three bucks. It’s not a competition to see who can raise the most money or gather the most supplies. Every little bit helps. Every. Little. Bit.

2) Besides first responders efforts, you know when – in a relief effort – help matters most? After Anderson Cooper leaves. Once the satellite trucks move on to the next sad story, Joplin will still be in emotional and physical shreds. Are we still willing to help? What’s the plan to help in three weeks? Three months? Six months?

So, we’re getting back together today to consider and act upon the help Peggy and Bobbie gave us – we’re planning out things like signs and chairs and a tent and what to do if people won’t be around on Saturday (we have drop off bins at the restaurant now) and if people want to write checks (make them out to “The Food Bank”) and how to get out the word.

We don’t have a traditional media partner for this event. They’re all doing their own thing.

We’re just a couple guys with kids who want to be good examples to them by helping the people of Joplin feel just maybe a little, little, little better by feeling a little cleaner with soap and deodorant and toothpaste and toothbrushes.

So, on Saturday from 8 AM to 2 PM, we’ll be in D. Rowe’s Parking Lot at Forum & Nifong in Columbia (behind Walgreen’s) collecting hygiene supplies & bottled water. You can learn more at www.dserves.org.

It ain’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the best we can do.

At least, it is now that we have Peggy helping us.

(Disclosure – D. Rowe’s is not a full-time client of mine, but I’ve done projects for them for money in the past. And for smoked meats as well. This project is all for free, obviously. At least, I hope that’s obvious. You never know anymore, do you? Okay. I’m going to stop talking now.)

Drowes serves flyer nobleed

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