By Beth Dunn
Hurricane Bob hit Cape Cod at the tail end of the summer I turned nineteen. My mother was in charge of setting up the biggest shelter in town, and I went along, mostly because it sounded heroic and I thought it might make a good story. Then I got deputized to open up a satellite shelter in a school across town, and it was suddenly a little scary, and a lot of work.
Running that shelter was mostly about getting people fed. I made hundreds of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches that night. I learned that there’s magic in bread, jam, and peanut butter, and that it can actually make you feel like everything is going to be OK.
Later, I wandered into the library, where some little kids were setting up their sleeping bags for the night. Most were excited. Some were crying. A few were too scared to cry, and just stared at the ceiling, looking bruised and fragile.
I stopped feeling like a hero in that moment. We pulled down some of the big art books on the lower shelves and made a fort. I scurried off to find a copy of Charlotte’s Web, because it’s all about tiny creatures being brave. We sat in the glow of the generator lights, reading about a spider and a pig, and eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. It’s those kids I think about when I donate, when I volunteer.
Beth Dunn is Co-Organizer of Writers for the Red Cross. She is a writer and editor at HubSpot. She writes a blog about 19th-century history and fiction at An Accomplished Young Lady. She lives on Cape Cod, where she volunteers for the Cape Cod & Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross.
This guest post was contributed by the author to Writers for the Red Cross. Writers for the Red Cross is a month-long celebration that brings writers, readers, editors, literary agents and independent bookstores together to raise funds and awareness for the Red Cross during Red Cross Month.
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