For those of us who still have power and heat, but are at a loss to even know where to begin to help your friends and neighbors, may I suggest one or more of the following?
1) Pray, Pray, Pray – for them, with them
2) Wrap your arms around them if possible and just hug them, silently. Let them cry and grieve.
4) If you have a generator, offer it to them, or if you’re using it, offer them an extension cord hookup!
5) Help them begin the clean-up process – don’t say, “Oh if you need anything just let me know.” Be there – show up and say “put me to work.”
In the days to come as the rebuilding begins, continue these things, and send a card, give them a gift card to help them replace items if they can, continue to bring meals, offer babysitting. Help them feel some sense of being normal in the midst of chaos. Give them a big gift basket filled with everyday items they may have lost – think along the lines of a shower wishing well basket, or everyday pantry items like flour, baking soda and powder, rolls of wax paper or aluminum foil – you know what I mean! Stop by with a cup of coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts and sit for 15 minutes. Let them cry when then need to, and help them laugh through their pain.
The main thing is – be there for them consistently through the long haul. They’re going to need to more than you or they realize. We’re all still in shock and reeling from the storm. Do one simple thing… then another… then another. It is amazing how those seemingly miniscule acts will make such a lifelong impact. Reach out and be the hands, the heart and the loving arms of Jesus.
If you can think of other ways, please share them here in the comments section, or email me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to share your ideas!