A real-life ‘Pay It Forward’ moment

Published 10:27 pm Friday, September 23, 2011

I have to admit that when Hurricane Irene hit, I was only worried about myself and those closest to me. I worried that my husband or I wouldn’t make it home during the peak of the rain. I worried that a downed branch would damage our house or our cars or even us. I worried that we wouldn’t have enough water or food or batteries to survive an extended period without power.

And even after Irene, when our power was turned back on, I was only grateful for what having power would mean for my family. Specifically, for that hot bath that we had all been craving since the third day of freezing showers.

And after the last tree branch and the last leaf were gathered together on the curb for the city cleanup crews, I stopped thinking about how the latest disaster had affected us.

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I’m also sorry to admit that I didn’t give a second thought to anyone else who had weathered the storm.

So it was with amazement that I learned the story of a whole community so empathetic about another’s disastrous brush with a tornado that residents vowed to raise money for rebuilding.

The story goes like this:

When folks in Driver heard of the April 17 tornado that swept through Gloucester and decimated Page Middle School, memories of a 2008 tornado that blew through Driver were stirred.

For many residents, the memories that resonated the most were those of rebuilding and the aid that flowed in to help them recover. And in a fashion reminiscent of a book and movie that gained popularity several years ago, the town decided to “pay it forward.”

Several fundraising cornhole tournaments later, Driver has donated $1,883 to help replace instruments, sheet music and other band equipment that was destroyed in the tornado.

“We hope you rebound the way we did,” Ken Parsons, the owner of Knot Hole Station where the tournaments took place, told Page Middle School Principal Travis Burns after presenting him with the most recent check.

In the midst of disaster, it’s hard not to look beyond your own survival. But examples like Driver’s remind us that when the dust settles and we take stock of the damage, we should show our gratitude for surviving intact by helping others who were not so fortunate.