I thank all of you for your kind thoughts, prayers, blog comments and personal e-mails. It all meant so much!
We were housed at Shepherd of the Hills, a non-denominational Christian church in Porter Ranch where the church staff, church volunteers and the Red Cross volunteers quite literally pampered us and thousands of others to make a difficult and scary situation as comfortable as it could be.
The church and the Red Cross were absolutely amazing. The church even welcomed pets including 2 well-behaved parrots with no cage, and set up an area for dogs and their owners. There was even a sectioned lawn area for the dogs to run around. Usually pets are NOT allowed at shelters as we learned first-hand from a previous evacuation and many hotels also do not allow pets, so this welcome was amazing indeed.
Walmart was so remarkable that I MUST let you know how fantastic they were and how much assistance they provided. We hear a lot of negative press about Walmart because they are not unionized, but they forget to tell us about all the good and charity that Walmart provides to our communities nationwide each time a disaster strikes.
As soon as the shelter opened, Walmart delivered to us pallet after pallet of basic necessities for every member of the family from baby formula, bottles, wipes, diapers, to feminine hygene products, socks, underwear, razors, toiletries, antibacterial wipes and gels, food, drinks, juices, snacks, candies, chocolate, toys, games and DVDs for the children, and SO MUCH MORE, it's impossible to list.
As if that wasn't enough, when they delivered all this, they said this was their standard minimum donation, now we could give them a list of all our specific needs and they would provide.
High on our list was blankets and pillows for hundreds of people. Walmart provided! Hundreds of warm, soft, luxurious plush blankets, wonderful down pillows, and even fancy, decorated sleeping bags for some very excited little girls. Walmart was the talk of the shelter with both evacuees and volunteers. They played a key role in keeping all our spirits up by day and our nights warm and comfortable. Walmart, I thank you!
There were many other companies which provided for us, especially:
- Whole Foods brought breakfast for thousands, all organic and top quality fruits, pastries, breads, bagels, cream cheese, butter, jams, the works, for an all-you-can-eat buffet. All day long for several days, they provided salads, pies, cakes, fruits and more.
- Starbucks brought gallons of several varieties of coffee, biscottis, cups, napkins, etc.
- Panda Express brought meals and friendly, joyful servers twice for hundreds of people.
- Subway twice brought sandwiches and napkins.
- Burger King brought several large boxes of hamburgers and french fries.
- McDonald's brought Jr. hamburgers for the children.
- Sprint brought dozens of cell phones for free calls to anywhere in the world and a couple of laptops for Internet access. We were told Sprint offers these services free to victims of major disasters all across the country.
- The Cal State Northridge Women's Basketball Team served one of the dinners and played with the children.
- A Great Dane/Lab Mix and his lovely owner provided comfort care.
- Dozens of small businesses and individuals also volunteered or provided what they could.
- Community children who were not affected by the winds and fires volunteered to play with the children who had been evacuated.
- Farmers Insurance provided coffee and doughnuts and easy to find mobile offices to file claims.
- State Farm Insurance provided bottles of water, teddy bears, coloring books, crayons and easy to find mobile offices.
For the media coverage however, I have one gigantic jeer. Some of them were not afraid to push aside evacuees to make room for their set ups. How rude and uncaring can they get?!! Their coverage was slow, outdated, even contradicting what we were told by the fire department, and they couldn't even get the names of the cities right. Not all the affected areas were in Porter Ranch. As I told one of the reporters who was trying to convince me that my own street was in Porter Ranch, "I know where I live!" Yet she and all the others continued to report the wrong information.
I thank God and all those who helped us, whether in a small way or in an awesome, inspiring way.
God's blessings to all.
Now, let's move on to happier topics! :-) Be sure to read all about my next giveaway and my next roundup!