What does being a good neighbor mean? Is it offering a smile and a wave? Is it politeness and concern for each other? Is it offering a helping hand when the need is there? What about moving past two people on a street, and considering neighboring counties?
Gilmer County was hit somewhat hard early in the week by storms. Citizens without power, sheltering in safe zones due to concerns from tornadoes. Yet, just west of us, there wasn’t just concern, there was fear. They had more than just a scare where they sheltered and came out a bit later with some wind damage and power gone. Murray County was hit much harder with two tornadoes confirmed to have touched down.
But as these people spent part of their week after Easter picking up and trying to piece life back together, their “neighbor” saw an opportunity. Easter is about new life, in any way you celebrate it. Restoration, redemption, these became more than just themes for people of Gilmer County this week.
On April 15, 2020, a post went up on the Gilmer Sheriff’s Social Media page, a post asking for a little help to provide for our neighbor next door.
The Sheriff’s Office asked, “As our community is well aware, our neighbors in Murray County were hit hard by the tornado at the beginning of the week. We are taking donations to deliver to a few Murray County churches.”
The post listed items like cases of water, non-perishable food items, hygiene items, and diapers. Despite the virus outbreak, despite health concerns, people showed up and not only offered to take donations, but told citizens with donations to drive by and call, and they would come unload the donations from cars. Maintaining little-to-no contact for those wanting to help. This effort provided for a need, but provided safety for those helping as well.
Volunteers spent two days collecting items from cars on Thursday, April 16, and Friday, April 17.
It wasn’t just from Gilmer though. Citizens and volunteers from Murray, more than 250 volunteers, showed up at Bagley Middle School on Tuesday to help the community recover from two tornadoes that ripped through Murray County on Easter Sunday.
In fact, response from citizens has been so involved and overwhelming, that Gilmer is turning a small helping donations collection over two days, into over a week long effort to support those whose homes were impacted.
The Sheriff’s Office posted saying,
THANK YOU to everybody who has generously donated for the victims of the Murray Co. tornado!!
We are having such a good response, we have decided to continue accepting donations at the Gilmer County Detention Center THROUGH NEXT FRIDAY, April 24th ONLY from 7:30AM to 4:00PM, M-F. We ask that you stay in your car, call 706-635-4625 and ask for Carla or Heather. One of them will come unload your car for you. We are asking for donations of:
~Cases of water
~Non-perishable food items
(Due to COVID-19 concerns, clothing can not be accepted)
More and more, setbacks and issues in the recent months, from viruses, to shortages, to storms and tornadoes, people are rising up. Neighbors are coming together. Care and Concern are winning out. A new normal has dawned and people are discouraged from touching each other. No comforting hugs or sorrowful embraces can be seen. Yet, people are finding ways to step up, serve, and offer a hand to help each other stand, to reinforce each other against the trials of the day. A new normal, indeed. But a normal that is shining more and more light on humanity’s resilience.