Lending a helping hand

Published 9:42 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

One of the difficult parts of this job is that during a tragedy, I have to be at work. I’d rather be a part of my community and help, but that’s rarely possible.

After the tornadoes hit Bertie County recently, it was my job to go out and tell the stories. I had to report what was going on, what kind of damage was done and it even fell my lot to write the story that reported the names of those who died in the storm.

After four days (Sunday through Wednesday) of reporting, I asked Cal Bryant (my boss) if I could take Thursday and help.

My church was one of the three in Askewville that banded together to help those who were affected by the storm and the Thursday afterward, I reported at 6 a.m. to offer some help.

After four days of preparing three meals a day, most of the volunteers knew exactly what to do and, to be honest, I wasn’t as much help as I would liked to have been. I did a very, very small part and even the little I did is not my purpose here.

In the 12 hours I spent working during that day, I learned even more about what makes us great. There were so many people who gave everything they could to help.

Despite working hard and the tremendous assets that were given by people, businesses and organizations, there were a few needs at the Askewville Assembly of God site where donations were handled and meals were prepared.

There are hundreds of stories of those who have helped and many who have done so much that it couldn’t even be chronicled. Like many, I have a few stories of my own and, because this is my column, I’m going to tell them here.

During my one day of work, we were in need of canned drinks and rakes. Both were disappearing at a rapid pace.

After it was revealed we were struggling to have canned drinks for the volunteers, I knew what to do. I stepped outside and used my cell phone to call Pastor C. David Stackhouse of New Ahoskie Baptist Church.

Despite being on a bus taking some of his youth out of town, Pastor Stackhouse made a telephone call to make sure we could get the help we needed.

In less than 15 minutes, my wife, Lyndal, and I were riding with our Associate Pastor, the Rev. Webb Hoggard, to Ahoskie to meet Steven Lassiter and pick up the soft drinks.

We met Steven at Cash and Carry and he told us to get whatever we needed and New Ahoskie would take care of the cost. I was not at all surprised. I know the kind of people who attend that church and I know Pastor Stackhouse. They are people who want to help the community and they were there for us in our time of need.

While we were doing that, Lyndal called Ace and told them of our predicament with rakes. By the time we left Cash and Carry and got to Ace, the rakes were waiting for us.

Not too long after we got back, Rev. Hoggard, Dr. Ed Clouse and I were sent to the food pantry to help unload chicken provided by Perdue and, not long after that, we helped unload a truck of food from the Albemarle Food Bank.

It was amazing to me to see how many people volunteered and how many people came to the aid of those workers.

I am thankful for the chance to spend that one day with some great people and the opportunity to see first-hand the spirit of cooperation and help that has been so prevalent.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.