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Volunteering in Joplin

The topic for this month's FOTR Blog Carnival is volunteering on the road, which we happen to be doing in Joplin MO. Most of us hadn't even heard of Joplin until the devastating EF5 tornado on 6/22/11. We were on the east coast heading toward Maine and we had a plan. But one of the advantages of living on the road is that we don't have to stick to our plan! From the reports, photos, and videos, we knew there would be a great need for help, and thought it would be a good opportunity for our whole family.
Turns out having a whole family would make it a little more difficult. Most organizations wouldn't allow children under 18 to help at all, so it took some digging. Another difficulty was finding the info before we got here. Many places didn't answer calls or emails, so we weren't sure of our plans (or if we'd be able to help at all) until we arrived. Even then, we visited and asked around until we found enough info to give us some options. Fortunately, there were enough to keep us busy and let us be helpful with our many helpful (but young) hands.
AmeriCorps, based at MSSU, has some distribution centers that allow children, as long as they are supervised (as it was a warehouse environment with forklifts, trucks, etc.). Forest Park Baptist Church has some moving, sorting, and packing work at their makeshift warehouse/bus garage. And another family on the road, RVingRoadTrip, found Joplin Family Worship Center, who has a collection/distribution center needing lots of help, with little hands welcome.
At the AmeriCorps warehouse, there were a lot of donations coming in...
And all of them had to be sorted, repacked, and labeled to send out...
While we were disappointed we couldn't go into the field, after seeing the damage first hand, and Allen's day of working there removing debris, we better understand why they can't. And we're really, really glad they can't!
See more of our pics from Joplin and videos. We've heard sobering stories, worked alongside victims who lost everything, and seen firsthand how the tornado affected Joplin residents. We highly recommend helping out as you can at locations near you, or as you travel. It's certainly a worthy cause, appreciated by the locals, and quite an experience for children of all ages. Want to read about other fulltime RVing families volunteering on the road? Check out the FOTR Blog Carnival for June!