Joplin is located 60 miles from Cassville. It might be more than a stone's throw in reality, but not in our minds. Many of us have visited relatives and friends at St. John's Hospital in Joplin, and local students often choose to attend college at Missouri Southern. I remember a time when Joplin was the closest location to complete the ACT. When I was a teenager, my friends would drive to Joplin just to cruise Range Line. At times, teens from Joplin traveled to Barry County to cruise our small town as well. The Joplin Globe has always loyally followed the athletes from Barry County schools. The newspaper also recognizes local students who achieve academic honors. We have partnered with Joplin in so many ways, and I know that Barry Countians want to step up and help this neighboring city now more than ever.
As we make decisions on how we will help our fellow Missourians, we must remember that the clean-up and rebuilding of Joplin will not be completed overnight. The process will span over many years. In the wake of tragedy, people who want to help often come from all corners of the country. It is always wonderful to see people from far away journey to the devastated area to lend both physical and emotional support, but Joplin is going to need support for a long, long time. I hope that Barry Countians will remember that when planning how to help. Our donations and volunteer work will be valuable over the next several years, even after people from beyond the four-state area stop coming.
There are so many ways we can help. We can decide to set aside a monthly donation for the city to help with the rebuilding process. I know that not everyone can make a large one time donation, but many of us can choose to save a few dollars a week to be donated to the rebuilding efforts. With the number of injured in Joplin, I have heard that local blood supplies will need to be replenished over the coming months. The American Red Cross has scheduled blood drives to be held in Barry County in June and July. We could mark those events on our calendars and take time to participate.
Many local residents and individuals have already ventured to Joplin to lend a hand. Having viewed the destruction, it is easy to see that volunteers will be needed for some time. Local organizations and businesses could plan volunteer days to assist with the clean-up efforts. Just like any volunteer work, helping in Joplin will not only assist the residents of the neighboring city, but also give us a time for fellowship and an opportunity to do something that is healing for our own souls.
Above all other ways to help, I believe that one of the best things we can do for Joplin and the people there is to include the city and the residents in our prayers every day. So many have been lost or experienced the pain of losing someone they love. So many hearts have been broken as families have lost everything they have worked for in life. Even after the television media moves on to another tragedy or big story, remember that there are people in Joplin still learning to cope with the devastation there. Also, recall all of your own memories from spending time in Joplin. Supporting the city in its time of need will help rebuild an area we have all visited, shopped in, dined at and enjoyed.