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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

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Readers Blog: what's a quapet?

#helpalabama, Part 3

3283-round2

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Connecting With Dick's Sporting Goods On Facebook & Christian Service Mission On Twitter 

 

The second trip again didn't have an exact plan because needs are consistently changing.  The loose plan was to gather more donated supplies & money in Milwaukee, another pit stop in Louisville then head to Birmingham where ever we are needed.  This time it wasn't just me, my Mom wanted to join me.  While I was collecting supplies and money from friends and family in Milwaukee she was doing the same in the Chicago suburbs.  Donated supplies were piling up in our garage and money was pouring in.  So I packed up our CRV (pictured above), picked up my mom outside of Chicago and the road trip begins.

 

In Louisville Tuesday night I scanned Toomer's For Tuscaloosa (T4T) on facebook for drop off locations and where help is needed.  T4T had a desperate need for tents.  They had made arrangements with Dick's Sporting Good in Birmingham that when tents were bought there they would collect them for T4T to pick up Wednesday night.  So I decided to spend some of the money donated on tents.  Now a plan was forming but I still had a SUV full of donated supplies but not a drop off location.  

 

Driving to Birmingham we stopped for gas in Athens, AL and ran into some Red Cross volunteers.  Turns out they were from Madison, WI and grew up in Wauwatosa, WI (small world).  We continue on, about 60 miles north of Bham I sent the following tweet: "@toomers4ttown we have food, hygiene items, clothes, where can we drop it off in Bham?"  Within minutes @toomers4ttown responded with a non-profit organization (Christian Service Mission) and address.  Now a plan was actually set.  Drop off items at CSM then go to Dick's.  

 

We arrive at CSM with our supplies and volunteers unload quickly and express their gratitude.  We talked to some of the volunteers to find out one was from Chicago working with Samaritans Purse (small world), we also found out that cleaning supplies were needed.  So off to Sam's Club we go.  After spending over $350 of the donated money we head back to CSM and again the volunteers quickly unload and express gratitude.  They were especially happy with the razors that were bought.  Now off to Dick's.

 

We arrive at Dick's and go straight to the bathrooms :).  We then go to the tent area and are greeted by the Manager.  I tell him I wanted to buy tents for Toomer's For Tuscaloosa.  He tells us that most have been buying the 2-person tent and proceeds to hand me one.  I say I wanted more, so he then says that he'd discount the 4-man tent by $10.  I say great but I was still thinking more.  His response? "Let me get a cart"  Before he gets a cart we chat.  Turns out his daughter attends the University of Alabama and lives in Tuscaloosa.  When the storms were hitting the area he called to check on her.  She happen to be at her boyfriend's house…in Auburn, AL (about 160 miles west, where no tornadoes hit).  Relieved he immediately told her to stay there for the evening.  The next day he went to her apartment, the parking lot where she would have parked her car was full of totaled cars.  Her roommates car being one of them.  Her apartment barely escaped total damage with other apartments just feet away devastated.  He said one of his daughter's apartment wall had a 2x4 speared through it, described as a toothpick speared through a square of toilet paper.  Very chilling to hear.  Back to the tent purchases.  I tell him I'd like to buy 6 tents and he tells me he'll give me a deal.  And did he ever.  He sold me a tent that was priced at $99.99 for only $9.99 and also discounted the other 5 tents 20% off.  WOW!  Handshakes exchang and he takes the tents and adds them to the other donated as we leave.

 

This trip was quick but we got a lot accomplished.  Everyone's support has simply been awesome and I owe everyone many many thanks.  I could not do any of this without that support.  The response to those we've met have been inspiring.  I want to do more and plan to go back again but next time I think the focus will be on rebuilding.

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