Nebraskans helping Nebraskans

It’s heartening to see how Nebraskans always seem to step up to the plate to help their fellow neighbors when disaster strikes.

Such has been the case with victims of this past weekend’s storm, which left hundreds of Nebraskans homeless and scrambling to stay afloat as they deal with flooded homes, farms, fields and cattle operations.

State officials estimate damage across the Cornhusker state at more than $1.4 billion. Gov. Pete Ricketts declared that the flooding may be the most widespread disaster in Nebraska history, causing 74 cities and 65 counties to declare state of emergencies in its wake.

On a personal and far less critical note, I got stuck in the snow on March 14 at the corner of 12th Street and Laird Avenue in Hastings while heading to a closed gym to work out in the early morning hours. Four strangers stopped to offer assistance, with one gentlemen giving me a ride to work after we were unable to break my vehicle free from the snow and ice-covered incline.

It was a relief to me that these Good Samaritans had my back, yet my troubles on the day were but a blip on the screen compared to the lots doled out to victims whose lives will continue to be impacted by storm damage for months and years to come.

In response to the rain- and snow-driven catastrophe, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of South Central Nebraska have teamed to organize a collection drive to aid those most impacted by the deluge. Items may be dropped off at the Chamber Development Center or United Way of South Central Nebraska, both at 301 S. Burlington Ave., through March 27. Suggested donations include: Cash, shovels, mops, buckets, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food, bedding, paper products, garbage bags, towels, hygiene products, toilet paper, baby items, pillows and bottled water. The Hastings Tribune is among the many area businesses participating in the drive. Individuals are also organizing drives online on social media sites, challenging others to match their contributions with photo proof of purchased items.

What is especially nice to see is how tragedies like this always seem to bring out the best in us, taking our eyes off ourselves for a minute and casting them instead on those whose everyday routines have been turned upside down by devastating circumstances.

In today’s highly volatile and divisive political climate, it’s refreshing to see no barriers or strings attached to providing our neighbors with the help they so desperately need.

Assistance will reach those who need it most, regardless of sex, political affiliation, race or religious beliefs. Because when it comes right down to it, we’re all in this together.

Some are just less impacted than their neighbor in need of a helping hand to get back on track both physically and emotionally.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see this spirit of selfless continue long after the water has receded? It shouldn’t take tragedy to band a community — or an entire state — together in spirit.

Life is short. Give generously.

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