Social media sites have been fascinating microcosms for the minds of my east coast friends this week. From Monday night’s Facebook cries for more Makers Mark on the Upper West Side to Instagram photos of tiny dogs dripping with water, the mood was more jovial in the beginning. When the sun came up on Tuesday and Sandy’s devastation was evident by the light of day, the collective mood on my social media platforms shifted somewhat.
One friend in New Jersey posted: “The Namaste Wagon has drowned.” (Translation, in case you don’t speak yoga teacher: “My car is filled with water.”)
By Wednesday, things were starting to get a bit desperate. “At this point I’d trade my designer handbags for a generator. It’s 60 degrees in here.”
But throughout it all, I have seen kindness and generosity displayed by my friends. “We have fresh water and heat in Williamsburg [Brooklyn]. Come by if you need a shower or a place to sleep.”
Or as one doctor friend in Manhattan put it, “Guys, stop thanking ME for all I’m doing and go buy a Con Ed [utility] worker a cup of coffee. They’re outside in this.”
Gradually, more and more are giving thanks for newly restored heat (“I love electricity so much. It is so sleek.”), asking for information about ferries, and even sharing opportunities for volunteers to carry supplies to fellow New Yorkers trapped in high rises.
And while there are reports of looting, there are some political pundits finger pointing, and there is the brewing controversy over the New York Marathon, I’m choosing to focus on the positive. And I’m looking for ways I can help.
Even though I’m on the other coast and I can’t carry supplies or offer warm water, that doesn’t mean I’m powerless. And neither are you. That’s why I made an emergency donation to the Humane Society this morning, and I made an appointment to donate blood to the Red Cross on Monday.
I made my first donation to the Humane Society in 2005. It was images of helpless animals trapped on roofs in Katrina’s horrific aftermath that turned the tide for me, and I have remained a faithful donor since then.
Though we have learned a lot since Katrina, and the loss of life — human or animal — is not expected to come near that of 2005, there are still many in need of our help.
Whether your heart calls you to make donations to alleviate human suffering or animal suffering, both are absolutely worthy of your support.
The American Red Cross has been heralded as an incredibly efficient organization and one that brings extraordinary relief to devastated areas. Even if you cannot afford to make a monetary donation, you can help their relief efforts by donating blood. I mean, we all have that, right? Growing up, my dad donated regularly. I remember him coming home with the band-aid covered cotton ball on his arm about once a month. He may not have donated a lot of money to charities, particularly when I was young and money was tight, but he gave what he could: he gave blood. Since I’m financially backing the pups, I’m giving the people my blood. Seems fair.