Five Loaves & Two Fish

Here's a picture gallery of the relief effort along the gulf coast.

This weekend's trip began Saturday morning at 6am at the Mobile Loaves & Fishes Commissary where dozens of volunteers, including an energetic group of young people from Concordia Academy, gathered to break into the 10 or so vehicles to make their way to the gulf coast.

A third trip is scheduled for this weekend. MLF is currently accepting sign-ups.

On a personal note, I have a confession to make.

Going to the coast to do relief work these past two weekends has been totally self-centered. Going into the communities stricken by this awful and awe-filling natural disaster has served as my own mental therapy. Back during the Katrina fiasco, watching suit after suit after suit point fingers in attempts to mealy-mouth their way out of their own deliberate indolence, their own utter failure at taking responsibility for their own society, for their own damned humankind; needless to say, I internalized a lot of shit. We were all guilty of a lot of things. As much as George W. Bush served in his role as Dumbass Royale throughout the proceedings, he filled a greater niche: Our fearless and exquisitely incompetent leader served as the perfect metaphor, a symbol for our own complacency and greed. Post-K survivors' guilt rightfully extended way past the Louisiana border during that miserable debacle.

Post-Ike becomes about healing. What I witnessed these two trips was amazing. I saw Austinites take hold of coastal brothers and sisters and offer care and comfort. Front line triage in the form of the National Guard, the Red Cross, and local authorities, is all well and good and essential to keep folks safe and relatively secure, but those operations do not, and by the very scope of their missions, cannot provide what many of these people need the most – that human touch. There is a coldness in administering care to which we all have become frightfully accustomed.

Well, not this trip.

Outside of our group, I saw neighbors from Edna and El Campo who had loaded up trailers and strapped on feedbags of love to distribute to people in need. These good neighbors coordinated relief totally on their own. They couldn't bear to see fellows suffering, and took it upon themselves – with no funding or organization – to hit the dollar stores and the mega marts, pack their trailers and SUVs with bottled water, diapers, snacks, sustenance, and get out face-to-face with offerings of love to total strangers and the assurance they are not forgotten.

Within our ranks, I saw kids who otherwise could have been partying, enjoying a perfect weekend at Barton Springs or tubing on the Guadalupe. Instead they spent the last weekend of summer hauling debris, loading cases, chopping onions, serving burgers, killing snakes, all for friends they never knew they had. I saw responsible adults light up like kids and evangelize kindness, providing solace and light that was missing from these people's lives since the hurricane struck.

I was, and remain humbled and grateful for the opportunity.

Click the gallery link above the picture for evidence of these human-to-human relief efforts along the gulf. (Captions are currently dicey. Check back later for better names and context.)

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