Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pray for West...

I know I still have a few days left in my blog challenge, I'll pick that back up tomorrow. I've been meaning to write this post all week and haven't had time.

As most of you know, last month the town of West, Texas was devastated by an explosion that took the lives of over two dozen people and left many people homeless. Last Friday my friends Emily, Jessica, and I made the drive to West to see what we could do to help out. I'll be honest, the only part of West we had ever been to was the portion located just off I-35, so we had to drive around a while before we found out where to go. We ended up at the community center where we were given the assignment of going next door to the local VFW to help sort through the donations. The amount of donations packed into trailers was unreal. We were told by volunteer coordinators that every time they would think they had reached the end of the donations, more would show up. They had so much they almost didn't know where to put it. While the majority of the donations had come in from other parts of Texas, they said they were receiving items from all over the U.S. With all the bad going on in the world, it made me feel good that people will reach out and help others in their time of need.

I was paired up with this kid (he was about 15) named Colton and we spent a few hours dividing up toiletries into separate boxes (toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, razors, etc). That way it would be easier for people to grab what they needed instead of digging through boxes. Colton mentioned that his grandparents and dad lived in West and that their home was completely destroyed. He said normally his grandparents were home that time of the evening (when the explosion happened), but his little cousin had asked them to take him somewhere, so they weren't home. He said there is no way they would have survived if they had been home. Seriously, this kid was amazing. He said that if something bad like this had to happen, he knew the town of West would be strong and get through it. He said everyone knew someone who died and who lost a home. His grandparents showed up to pick up a few items and then stayed to help out as well. The population of West is just under 3,000. I was there less than five hours and I could see just how close that community is- they are all like family. We served dinner to residents for a while (some ate there, some took it to go). Anyone who came in for food knew someone there. There were hugs, tears, and some laughter. We were told that different businesses/companies had been providing lunch and dinner for the volunteers and residents since the day after it happened. I really wanted to just hug everyone I saw. I did hug Colton when I left (I asked him first, didn't want him screaming "stranger danger"). He said he appreciated us coming all the way from Dallas to help out. He said the continued prayers were greatly appreciated. He also said that the next few months more volunteers would be needed to help with the clean up. 
We ran into some road blocks looking for the community center
The West Community Center
The West VFW
Just a few of the trailers packed with supplies
Volunteers helping sort donations
For anyone who has traveled through West, you know they are famous for their Little Czech Bakery/Czech StopWe stopped there on the way out of town and bought some kolaches. 
Me, Jessica, and Emily
We took most of the kolaches to the West Fire Station. Fourteen firefighters lost their lives in the explosion. We just wanted to pay our respects and thank them for all they do. Again, I had to refrain from hugging all of them while we were there. I'll be honest, there was more than once on Friday where we all had to hold back tears or step away when we felt like we were going to cry. It was overwhelming.

Fire stations from around the U.S. have been sending T-shirts and patches showing their support and prayers
Statue and memorial outside the fire station

Right now the town has all the supplies they can handle at the moment, but monetary donations are still needed to help with the rebuilding. Besides the residential homes lost, the town's intermediate school, nursing home, and an apartment complex were destroyed. If you are interested in donating, please click here.



  1. What a horrific thing for that little town to go through. I am glad you went there to help out. I'm sure your help was very welcomed.

  2. Wow it is just so crazy how much damage was done in seconds. So sad. I'm glad you were able to volunteer and help out the community of West!