What You’ve Done for Alabama.

If anyone still doesn’t believe that “Internet Friends” are just as real as “In Real Life Friends”, then they’ve never been in a crisis situation.

To help with tornado relief, you have ordered over $1,200 of items off of the Christian Service Mission’s Amazon Wish List (you’re part of the reason that UPS had to reserve an entire truck just to deliver there!!), and have given $1,145 to my Mommies Helping Mommies fund – I am completely blown away, and so thankful!!

Plus, you were an invaluable asset to me as I set off into my couponing adventures, trying to make the Mommies Helping Mommies fund stretch as far as possible.  I got great advice, and my mailbox was filled with packages of coupons, diapers, and formula from you!

And I think you’ll be proud of my couponing success.

I did my research, I planned my attack, and I left victorious.  On my first shopping day, I spent $675 of the fund, and by a powerful combination of Formula Checks, Manufacturer’s Coupons, Store Coupons, Cash Back Cards, Store Sales, and Amazon Mom’s subscribe and save program, I saved $376!

(And yes, I did remember to cancel my Amazon Mom subscriptions so that 8 jumbo boxes of diapers don’t show up on my doorstep once a month, every month.)

This is where about $500 of your money went (Amazon hadn’t delivered the rest yet):

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I jammed it all in my car, along with some toys that Ali picked out to give, and with a bit of Twitter research, decided on my first destination:  Henager, Alabama – two hours north of Birmingham.

Henager’s county, Dekalb, had one of the worst outbreaks of tornadoes, yet had hardly received any help – FEMA just arrived there this week.  I knew this was a place that needed your help.

My friend Ashley and I drove up Wednesday morning.  The drive was gorgeous – hills, farms, beautiful countryside, until quite suddenly everything changed.

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House addresses were labeled like this:

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Because many of the houses now look like this:

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We passed out of that swath of tornado damage and arrived at our destination: Henagar Baptist Church.

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It was an amazing place – Church members were busy volunteering to help run their kitchen and their storehouse of goods for the community:

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They were allowing anyone to come, shower, eat, rest, and get whatever they needed – no strings attached, no FEMA paperwork required – and all of this despite the fact that many of the volunteers had lost so much, as well.

The precious Church secretary that I’d talked to Monday never even mentioned that she herself had lost everything – she was joyfully and tirelessly volunteering to help her town.

The Church’s pastor lost his house as the tornado passed through one side of it,

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And then it completely leveled his mother’s house:

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Leaving her every belonging in a pile of ruins.

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And their family was devastated that she herself did not survive the storm.

They told us another heartbreaking story of one of their church families – the mother was picked up out of the house and thrown behind it, and was killed immediately.  The three children – 15, 6, and 2 years old, were all severely injured.  The father was at work, unable to get to their house for four hours due to all of the storm damage.  Fortunately, one of the neighbors saw the two younger children wandering around what was left of their house, and she was able to get them to the hospital.

Despite all of this, dozens in their church were there, joyfully volunteering their time to help their very needy community.

I was so blessed to get to meet them.

I was able to replenish their baby needs tables with your donations:

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One of the workers told me that it was exactly the right timing – they had been nearly completely out of formula on Monday, but God had provided through several people and our delivery, and now they had enough!

She was so thrilled in telling me that God had provided for all of their shortages just like that – right at the exact time they needed it.

She told me that the toy area had been one of the most exciting things for the children, so I was so glad to be able to add to it, as well.

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Despite the fact that so many of their houses looked like this,

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or were just piles of rubble left on the side of the road,

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they were blessing others and, quite frankly, a blessing to me.  Their hearts, their attitudes, their willingness to pour their lives into serving – it was convicting and inspiring.

And thank YOU for being true friends to me and my state!


If you would like to help in these continued efforts, I will be making relief trips to various communities over the next several weeks.

Every penny of my Mommies Helping Mommies fund goes to buy formula, diapers, and other baby needs for tornado victims – just click here to donate.

Also, the Christian Service Mission has been able greatly help dozens of communities by purchases sent to them off of their Amazon Wish List – just click, order, and it’s automatically sent straight to them!

Coupons and formula checks are also greatly helping – if you have some to spare, email me at rachel@graspingforobjectivity.com for instructions on where to send them.

Thank you again!

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. Rachel, I am so inspired by what you’re doing! I will do a post on Mommies Helping Mommies over the weekend.

    Through my blog, I’ve raised almost $250 for a co-worker who lost everything she owned in Pleasant Grove, and I will present her gift card tomorrow along with several material goods. I am so excited for the opportunity to minister to her family! I love the way the whole countryhas come together to support Alabama. :)

    THANKS for all you’re doing personally!

    • Thank you so much, Katherine! You’re right – it’s a group effort, and I’m so proud of our state AND of everyone outside of our state that has chipped in and helped!!

  2. You are an inspiration, and this is so incredibly touching. You’ve brought me to tears. Rachel, this is wonderful that you’ve championed this!

  3. Wow, this brought tears to my eyes reading about the families. So sad, yet so beautiful that they are continuing to give of themselves to their community. What a blessing to be a part of it.

    Good job getting all those deals! You are definitely making that money stretch!

  4. Kudos to you, Rachel, and your readers. It is so very important to connect donors with how their donations are used.

  5. This is so awesome Rachel. You are really making a difference. I think it’s amazing. I posted your work on my blog today so hopefully you’ll get some more donations. It’s just wonderful how you are reaching out.

  6. Eggrollmama says:

    Rach, I am so inspired by your selfless efforts to serve! I’m away from home this week, but when I get back I will send you whatever formula stuff I have. I’m also going to link to this post from my blog – as oklahomans, we are so familiar with the destruction and tragedy. Hopefully a few more people will hear about your work and be able to help out. Blessings to you, sister!

    • Thank you so much!! I really appreciate it! Alabama definitely needs all the help we can get – it’s a mess here! Something I’m sure Oklahoma knows all about.

  7. I am crying as I read this… it so heartwrenching and so beautiful to see all that is done and how God is at work here. Thank you so much for keeping all of us up on what is going on. You are doing amazing things, Rachel!

  8. Are you part of the Amazon Wish List? I saw it posted from someone else and actually bought a few things off of it and shared it with a bunch of people as a way to help. :)

  9. Thank you so much for your update, and for doing so much for so many. I cried again reading this post, just like I’ve cried almost every day about these terrible storms and how they have destroyed so much. I continue to be awed at how generous so many people have been- those who have lost nothing, and those who have lost everything. I volunteered for a few hours on Monday at our small relief center and there was a man there who, like those you mentioned, had lost everything. Yet, the volunteers told me that he is at the center working all day every day and refuses to take anything. Other volunteers MADE him eat a free lunch. When I broke down once after hearing yet another terrible story he hugged me and said, “I know how you feel. We’re just so lucky!” This from a man who had lost his home, but was just so grateful that he and his dogs had survived. It’s amazing how so much tragedy can bring out so much goodness….

  10. Rachel you are an angel!
    Thanks so much for what you’re doing.

  11. You are a rock star!!! Way to go for getting it all started and showing how God provides!

  12. seeing the pictures just breaks my heart. it’s like seeing all of the destruction that happened around our town is just terrible. I had to check on a friend of mine because a tornado went through her area but thankfully missed her house by a half mile.

  13. Thanks for the update. The pictures and stories still bring tears to my eyes.
    I am so thankful to God for the work you are doing and I am so honored to be a small part.

  14. Elwynne Matthews says:

    Dearest Rachel: I am a grandmother to Rachel Carollo. She has told me about your wonderful project. Do you know that Rachel and I were in the 1999 tornado in Oklahoma City. Your pictures tore at my heart–I will tray for this area==and thank you so much for the effortt. God bless you over and over , swseet child.

  15. So, I’m only just reading this a year later but I have to ask – is there still a need? Do you know if any of these churches or communities are still taking donations or still need stuff off the amazon list?

    • Well, there was actually another tornado that came through about a month or so ago. The damage was just as bad but MUCH less widespread. The Christian Service Mission is a local group that does an amazing job heading up all tornado relief – they are always taking donations.

      Thanks!!

  16. Wow! As I’m reading these stories 1 1/2 years later they still bring tears to my eyes. What a wonderful thing you and your friends were able to do. I was giving birth to my second daughter the day the tornadoes hit Alabama and to be honest I was in such a new mommy fog for a while I don’t even know if I remember them. It makes me so thankful for my own blessings.

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