Weeks like this one are when we as humans - and more specifically as southerners - put sports and their "importance" aside to help out those around us who are in need after a tragic and devastating event. As everyone knows, the state of Mississippi incurred a devastating event on Monday when a number of very strong storms and tornadoes ripped through the state, taking lives and changing others forever. While those who help others for a living like the American Red Cross roll into effected areas to distribute aid, the rest of us have been working to donate in any way we can.
One of us who has donated is a bit more well-known than the rest in this area - MSU basketball coach Rick Ray. Thanks to this tweet from @thebiscuitlady, we now know that the MSU coach and his family opened their hearts and closets far beyond what anyone would have imagined or asked:
Forget his coaching record; forget anything that Rick Ray has done as a professional to this date in his life. Forget whether or not it was literally coach's "entire closet" as well. It's a tremendous amount judging from the picture, and that's what matters. Just seeing this sort of kindness from a coach who just happens to work in the area shows us the kind of person he is, and that for him and his family it's about more than just basketball in Starkville and the surrounding state. There are many, many others who will not get the attention they deserve for donating at the level of coach Ray and beyond, but it is worth sharing the good deed of one of our own to reflect on who we are as southerners, as Mississippians, and as humans in general.
God bless you Rick Ray and family.
To find out how to donate yourself, please visit redcross.org to donate online. You can also text a $10 donation to the Red Cross by texting "redcross" to 90999. There are also drop off points for clothing and supplies around Starkville (flyer link here), and via Clarion Ledger here are some other ways to help:
Donations can also be made to the Salvation Army or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or (601) 982-4881. The Salvation Army is also seeking donations of bottled water, 55-gallon heavy-duty trash bags, Lysol wipes, large bottles of hand sanitizer, baby supplies, cleaning supplies and non-perishable snacks.
The Mississippi Braves tweeted: @mbraves will have U-Haul trucks at #TrustmarkPark to accept donated items as well as cash donations May 1-4. #MSwx#disasterrelief
Donations can be made all day or at games. @MBraves will give each person making a donation 2 free tickets to a game on May 12 at #TrustmarkPark.
Give blood. For blood donations, Mississippi Blood Services' Main Center, 115 Tree St. (off Treetops Boulevard) in Flowood, takes walk-ins. Weekday hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (extending to 7 p.m. on Thursdays, the website says).
For additional locations and hours, visit www.msblood.com.
The biggest needs, as always, hospital services coordinator Jim Parker said, are for O negative and B positive bloods, "however in a situation like this, we can't get enough of all of it."
Be a kid at heart. The Clarion-Ledger is collecting books, games and toys for kids in the storm zone. Bring new, unwrapped items to The Clarion-Ledger, 201 S. Congress St., in downtown Jackson, or The Madison County Herald at 794 U.S. 51, Suite B, in Madison.
Volunteer Mississippi is assisting with coordinating various relief efforts. Volunteer applications are available online at volunteermississippi.org, along with information on where to make donations.
Party for a cause. Hal & Mal's, Cathead Vodka, Capital City Beverage, Parlor Market, Pig and Pint and 1908 Provisions are combining forces for a Sunday fundraiser, tentatively set at 4 p.m. inside and outside Hal & Mal's, to raise money to help tornado victims in Madison and Rankin counties, Hal & Mal's general manager P.J. Lee said.
Stuff the truck. Pearl Chamber of Commerce is teaming with Clear Channel, WJTV, Mississippi Braves, Salvation Army and Miskelly, 6 a.m. Wednesday at the Pearl Wal-Mart, with Miskelly supplying the truck, to collect donated items for storm victims, including cleaning supplies, tarps, trash bags, etc.
Pets who need a place to stay can be house guests at Brandon Veterinary Clinic. The clinic is boarding pets - cats and dogs - at no charge for Brandon area residents without shelter or who are doing home repairs from storm damage.
Winston County info: For specific Winston County needs, visit the Facebook page Winston County-Mississippi Tornado Information, Support & Lost & Found.
Give, but with care. The Better Business Bureau warns that all charities are not created equal. Not all will have a physical presence in the storm zone, and differing percentages of donations will go straight to storm victims. Go to BBB.org to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by BBB and meet their accountability standards.