Where does it go?

Published 4:21 pm Thursday, November 22, 2012

“Dear Red Cross Friend,
We are thankful for all you do for the American Red Cross. Your efforts have brought smiles and hope to so many in need of help both here at home and across the country. As you celebrate with friends and family this Thanksgiving, know that we are celebrating you.
Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season.”
The words belong to Summer Woodard, regional chief development officer of American Red Cross in eastern North Carolina, and are intended as an expression of gratitude in the season of Thanksgiving — gratitude for those who have given to Red Cross and continue to give, disaster after disaster.
Many times, we watch disaster as it happens and our greater, compassionate selves want to pitch in, to help those devastated by whatever tragedy has befallen them. So we do, and very often the recipient of our need to help is American Red Cross, the organization that’s there, on the ground, feeding, clothing and providing for those in need.
But once we’ve donated to the cause, then what happens? Did the $2, $10, $100, help in any way? The answer is yes. It has helped.
This is what sets Woodard’s email apart from previous ones:  the inclusion of a link at the end of her email, a link to a YouTube video.
It leads to a brief video message from some of the people whose homes, lives and livelihoods were devastated by a storm that began as Hurricane Sandy, and ended as Superstorm Sandy, thanking all who donated to the Red Cross in their time of need. The images of destruction — piles of water-soaked belongings, homes with walls ripped down to their studs — are familiar. Take away the New Jersey accents and those people could be any one of us, a year and three months ago, after the havoc wrought by Hurricane Irene.
The video is only 33 seconds long, but it tells a story of gratitude in the face of hardship that could very well get longer, and perhaps harder — we know, we’ve been there. But when the video ends, be careful, because all the “recommended videos” displayed by YouTube will draw you in. They are, in a way, just as devastating: visual letters home from Red Cross volunteers who’ve given up their time, their dedication and their Thanksgiving to the cause of caring for their fellow Americans.
Have a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BwGk-CMpPo&feature=youtu.be.