When the little things become the big things.
The search for children whose cards provided hope in the midst of Katrina chaos.
August 29, 2015 marked the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
While the media flooded the world with an overload of dismal aftermath imagery, such were memories that those of us who had lived through the storm preferred to forget.
It was the desire to remember the positive after-effects, rather than relive the darkness, that prompted an alternative look back, and led me to pen this open letter to the children who had impacted us with a simple gesture of kindness.
Dear Schoolchildren of Massachusetts,
It’s been nearly ten years since we received the box of cards that you sent us following Hurricane Katrina. I know that you’re not quite so little anymore—some of you may be in high school, perhaps some have graduated. But this message is sent with the intent of letting you know what you, as elementary school students, did for our city’s first responders when you sent your well wishes.
I’m not sure how or why you selected our little city of Slidell instead of one of the larger cities to receive your gift of hope.
Perhaps your teacher knew that Slidell was the Louisiana city hardest hit by the storm. Or perhaps she was from a small city herself, and knew that the majority of relief efforts would be channeled through larger, metropolitan areas. Or perhaps we just got lucky.
Now, here’s what you may not know: on the day your box of cards arrived in the only City of Slidell complex that was not destroyed by Katrina, we had just learned that Hurricane Rita was in the gulf and it, too, was headed our way. We were still pretty much in shock from living in the movie-of-the-week that was the aftermath of Katrina. Panic set in. Spirits plummeted. And we didn’t know how or if we could deal with another hurricane. Then your box arrived.
In the moments we spent perusing your cards, we were enveloped by the love with which they were created. And it helped.
We taped your cards on the doors and walls of our office, and they helped ease the stress with which we were dealing, and that which was still to come. You gave us sunshine in the midst of darkness. And for that we are grateful. My only regret is that, ten years later, I cannot recall from which school these were sent, so I could send you a personal thank you note, yet again, to let you know how much your cards saved all of us.
It is my hopes that you see this message, and you know that your kindness is still remembered a decade later.
I signed the letter, “One of many Katrina warriors touched by your kindness.”
The story was picked up by Upworthy and shared with its readers just days prior to the tenth anniversary of the storm, providing an upbeat alternative to the dark imagery with which we were flooded.
A bit of internet sleuthing, and perhaps yet another instance of divine intervention, led to the unexpected discovery of some of finding some of those kids and sharing the story. Check out these follow up stories via Sentinel & Enterprise News and Lunenburg High School Knightly News.
We live in a world that seems to grow darker and darker with the passing of each day. So it’s important to recognize how much joy the little things, such as the cards sent by these children, can bring to so many.
Hope and gratitude are among the two greatest gifts we can share with others. And kindness and compassion cost nothing.
Pass it on.