Thanksgiving generosity warms the heart

Thanksgiving generosity warms the heart

My local community came up big in that department.

As I continue to watch and hear heartbreaking stories from the Hurricane Sandy devastation in the Northeast, I also continue to have flashbacks to my own community's epic struggles following a disaster. In our case, it was a deadly April 2011 tornado that literally ripped Tuscaloosa, Alabama, apart at the seams. Recovery from these kinds of large scale disasters takes a really long time, and all these months later, Tuscaloosa is still in need. My heart goes out to everyone in New Jersey and elsewhere, as they have a long, hard road ahead.

There is great news, though: With the help of a generous community, recovery can be less overwhelming. You'll get national support, sure, but once the headlines fade a bit, it's the locals who step up the most.

This is exactly what happened on Thanksgiving Day 2012 here in Tuscaloosa. For the second year in a row, members of the Alberta Baptist Church served a wonderful holiday meal to countless residents in need of some Thanksgiving cheer. Alberta Baptist, by the way, is a historic local church that was virtually destroyed by the tornado. The church is still rebuilding, but they're starting from within -- helping the people first.

Buildings are important, of course. A church needs, well, a *church* for the congregation to gather and worship. That hasn't stopped the Alberta Baptist Church from reaching out. This year's Alberta Community Thanksgiving Lunch was a huge success, feeding so many and once again uniting a community that was almost ripped apart less than two years ago.

It's efforts like these, I think, that benefit local communities hardest hit by disaster the most. Little by little, this great city of mine continues to pick up the pieces and rebuild, but along the way, spirits are being renewed.