News: Local community pulls together in spite of tragedy
Story by Sgt. Christopher Calvert
FORT HOOD, Texas – As Fort Hood comes together to grieve as a family in the aftermath of the recent tragedy here, individuals and organizations within the local community have pulled together to help those in their time of need.
“Something as tragic as this incident brings out the best of the people in the local community,” said Laura Read. “People want to show their compassion and help out in any way possible.”
Read, the senior station manager of the Fort Hood American Red Cross chapter, has witnessed an outpouring of support as citizens and Soldiers within the area have called around the clock in efforts to help those affected by the events of April 2.
“We’ve relied heavily on the local [American Red Cross] chapter, and the community has been there for it,” she said. “The support has been amazing. The camaraderie and the work of all entities helping out within the emergency operation center have been stellar.”
“We’re all here to take care of Soldiers and their families,” she added. “Even when we’re dog tired, we push through and don’t give up.”
Within a week, hundreds of meals and thousands of snacks and bottles of water have been provided by the local chapter and received by those in need.
From the moment the incident happened, help was already on its way, she said.
“The first thing I was told Wednesday night is that we needed 200 meals for witnesses,” she said. “The Red Cross was there to meet their needs without any hesitation.”
Besides supplying staple foods and water, the Red Cross has also housed families of victims at no expense and provided resources to families seeking information about the welfare of their loved ones.
“We‘ve fielded a lot of questions from concerned family members,” she said. “They all want to know the same thing, ‘Is my son or daughter OK?’ We’ve opened up the Red Cross website, safeandwell.org, to ensure family members that their Soldiers are safe and taken care of. We want families to know we’re looking out for their troops.”
Stacye Downing, the garrison gift and donations coordinator with Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, said she’s also witnessed an outpouring of citizens around post who have reached out to help in any way possible.
“We’ve had local restaurants calling around the clock to help by donating food,” Downing said. “We’ve also had numerous Soldiers ask about raising funds to help. Everyone wants to do their part to assist the healing process.”
As Soldiers, families and friends of Fort Hood continue to mend, Downing said the local community seems stronger now than before.
“The level of compassion and caring that has come forth as a result from this incident testifies to the importance of the military and the lives of our fellow citizens,” she said. “This community is resilient, and it’s shown it will always be there for those who need its help.”
For more ways to help, visit the local American Red Cross’ Heart of Texas chapter at http://www.redcross.org/tx/waco or call at 254-523-4985.