I’ve been wracking my brain over what I can do, what I can organize to help my neighbors deal with the impact of the tornado. We were so lucky, but I know that if it were me in their situation, they would be there for me. I don’t have a lot of money to spare with the new baby on the way, or I would empty my bank account to help out, either via the Red Cross or the Minneapolis Foundation. I really am in no position to be of any physical help, or I would be out there this weekend or earlier offering help with cleaning up.
However, I think I’ve figured out a few ways that I/we can help.
First, at Jen’s request, we (myself and other local bloggers) are going to plant some flowers in flower pots and flower bomb her neighbors. Cheer is missing for a lot of people, and flowers don’t take too well to tornadoes. We are looking for some help with supplies, so if anyone reading this has any contacts with local nurseries, let me know. I should actually be able to meet Jen, too. It came as a shock to some that I was going out of my way to try to help her on Sunday even though I’ve never met her. That would be bloggers, and North siders for you. We stick together.
Second, St. Anne’s Place, where we adopt a family from every Christmas is currently without power. Both that shelter and their other one were spared fortunately. Through work we are going to try to do some donations to them to help with their lack of a kitchen (they were in the process of a remodel when the storm hit), as well as regular needs. Some of their program’s graduates have found themselves homeless again. With the lack of affordable housing and the high number of people in North Minneapolis who live below the poverty line, it will be especially hard for people to bounce back from this. If anyone is looking for somewhere to donate to directly, I suggest them. Given that they serve women and children, and half of those seeking shelter were kids, I think they’re a perfect fit. Keep them in mind this holiday season as well. Family’s adopted for holiday giving are graduates, and I can see that need being great this year.
Third, trees! North Minneapolis is one of the oldest parts of the city. The trees were magnificent. Really. For example, the maple tree in our front yard is likely as old as our house. 65 years. I think it is on the young side compared to some of the elms and oaks that were lost. Weber Park, full of gigantic trees, is more than half flattened. The city will replace boulevard trees, and the ones in the park, eventually, but homeowners will need to replace trees in their yards as well. Trees aren’t just pretty, they provide valuable shade to cool in summer, they help clean the air, and well, they’re pretty. I would like to, in the long run, help get some trees and maybe even plant them for people who lost trees. We’ll call it my maternity leave project since it will likely be this fall or next spring before they can be planted. I may even take a shot at grant writing, but I’m sure I’ll be looking for people with trucks and shovels to help as well.