Kalamazoo Hearts Beckley

Heading out east to the retirement party of one of my partner’s colleagues. (We will be in Davidson, NC – email me if you want coffee.) We had planned for months to overnight in Beckley, WV, which is in the flood zone. So, inspired partly by John’s fundraising, I decided to solicit donations and see if we could fill the minivan.

Kalamazoo came through nicely. The entire car is loaded with people food, pet food, bottled water, and baby stuff; also, lots and lots of blankets, towels, and bedding. And lots and lots and LOTS of cleaning supplies. (Thanks for the good advice, commenter J R in WV!) We’ve also got (hope no one is bugged by the commercial links; these people did good)…

200 packages of Heilman‘s gourmet nuts in bags poetically labeled, “Nuts for You from Kalamazoo” (BTW they ship.)

A bunch of Dr. Bronner’s hemp-based soap and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts (nutritious and vegan!) from a nice woman who helped organize this year’s local Hemp History Week event. (Hemp is good, right Juicers?)

Fastsigns—there may be one near you!–donated the sweet magnetic car signs. (See below.)

Car Tetris!

My partner and I probably spent the equivalent of an eight-hour day contacting people, picking up stuff, and filling the car. (He’s a good filler; obviously has the Tetris gene.) You could argue that it would have been more efficient just to write a check, but connecting with people, both in Kzoo and Beckley, has been wonderful; and people really seemed to love and appreciate the opportunity to donate.

It’s an eight-hour trip to Beckley, and I’ll let you all know how things go.

(Now, where did I put my show tunes…)

The Kzoomobile with signage. Not pictured: a big topper also filled with donations!

37 replies
  1. 1
    Betty Cracker says:

    What an inspiring example of lending a hand in a crisis! Well done, and have a safe trip!

  2. 2
    laura says:

    Efficiency schmifency, the in person van of good stuff and love will do way more than sending a check. Good on ya’s for the direct action!

  3. 3
    MomSense says:


  4. 4
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Betty Cracker: Thanks! The ratio of pet food to human food is a bit too high, reflecting the orientation of my particular network. ;-) But I’m hoping / thinking people can get donated people food from a lot more sources than pet food. // Also, there are many people out there who, in a crisis, will either not feed their pets at all (boo!), or feed them instead of feeding themselves. So hopefully it will all be okay.

    Plus, all those nuts…

  5. 5
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @laura: Thank you! The United Way person we’re meeting wrote, “I can’t describe the devastation nor do the pictures do it justice.” Which kind of haunts me.

    Also, Kzoo has had its own bad times recently – the Uber shooter and then the impaired driver who killed five bicyclists. So I believe getting to help some other communities is healing / good for us, too. (As it always is, but only more so now.)

  6. 6
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Caring for pets in a crisis can be a real hardship, so you’ve probably got the ratio just right. I remember after that summer when we had four hurricanes in Florida, the state had to rethink public shelter accommodations because many people just aren’t willing to leave their pets.

  7. 7
    ThresherK says:

    @Hillary Rettig: “The orientation of your particular network”?

    Are you one of the people totally addicted to watching the rescue felines at TinyKittens? Spousal ThresherK and I are.

  8. 8
    satby says:

    Way to go Hillary (and your partner)! It’s going to be a good feeling to be able to give those folks a bit of help.
    And there’s always lots of people food but not much pet food, so don’t worry about the ratio there. It will be sorely needed.

  9. 9
    hedgehog mobile says:

    Well done and thank you.

  10. 10
    satby says:

    @Betty Cracker: My friend stayed in her home in Gulfport MS during Katrina just because she couldn’t stand to evacuate one more time and leave her pets behind. Fortunately, her house was the only one left standing on her street after the surge, though it flooded almost three feet high inside.
    But it’s a real problem preventing people from evacuating.

    And for several days the pets shared the MREs and snack food before they could obtain pet food again.

  11. 11
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @ThresherK: a bit more oriented toward tiny canines, but yeah, that’s the idea!

  12. 12
    Hillary Rettig says:

    oh well – time to go. thanks for the kind words and support prior to my trip everyone. I’ll check in. I hope Steve’s hair situation improves!

  13. 13
  14. 14
    ThresherK says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Good on ya for this.

  15. 15
    Betty Cracker says:

    @satby: Wow, how scary that must’ve been for her! Glad she and her animals made it.

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    Proud of you, Hillary. Safe drive and keep us pisted.

  17. 17
    Bob2 says:

    Keep safe and let us know how it goes please!

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Safe travels!

  19. 19

    Safe drive and well done!!! Let us know how it goes.

  20. 20
    CaseyL says:

    Great idea, and an even greater heart behind it. Have a great, and safe!, trip, and let us know how it goes.

  21. 21
    satby says:

    @Betty Cracker: it was. Took almost 3 days before she could get word to us she was safe. Ironically, where she would have evacuated to (west of 10) was swept away.

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    @satby: Yikes. We dodged a bullet like that in 2004 by not evacuating inland even though we were under an evacuation order. My granny and stepmother did leave the coast and ended up spending the night in a hotel hallway when the storm turned inland and roared through the town where they were staying. Their car was parked in a parking garage next to a building with a gravel roof, and the wind blew those rocks into the garage, pelting their car for hours and busting out all the windows on one side.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    Very cool! I think the Check vs Stuff calculation changes if you’re actually going to be in the area.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    That’s a great thing you’re adding to your trip – to make an enormous understatement. And as many others have pointed out, the ratio of foods should be balanced in favor of pets since more folks will provide for people. And

    the Check vs Stuff calculation changes if you’re actually going to be in the area.

    as @Mnemosyne: observes.

  26. 26
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    What a great idea, to give this way. Well done you and Kzoo! Travel safely — you’re going to be seeing a beautiful part of the country.

  27. 27
    RedDirtGirl says:

    Wow! A snark-free thread! Didn’t know we had it in us :)

  28. 28
    J R in WV says:

    Thank you Hillary. I know it was a ton of work getting that van loaded up with stuff for other people, but that load will do a lot of good.

    BE CAREFUL driving down, especially with that topper full of material, your van won’t be as maneuverable as usual!

    Have fun in Davidson at the retirement party. We went to one Saturday afternoon, a friend who was able to retire because she could get health insurance via the ACA web site. She could afford to retire, but was too young for Medicare. Thank you, President Obama!!

    The road down the ridge to their farm was kind of hacked by the storm, so everyone was driving their trucks and suvs. I did have to back up and take a run at one point even with all wheel drive on the way home. But the food was great. Old timey music picking on the front porch. A good time was had by all.

    I don’t think Beckley itself was much damaged, but it is right in the middle of the counties which were hard hit.

    Thanks again, and be careful.

  29. 29
    Origuy says:

    Good job to you and all your helpers!

    Some one asked for snark? Robert Kirby of the SLC Tribune wound up a couple of elderly Trumpies.

    A Trump supporter, an El Salvadorian maid and a pot-stirring columnist walk into a Montana hotel

  30. 30
    Bob2 says:


    Oxford commas please!

  31. 31
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    You have a good heart, Hillary.

  32. 32
    Miss Bianca says:

    Go, HR! Best to you on your trip!

  33. 33
    Just Some Fuckhead, Clinton Supporter says:

    Looks like you’re still getting the silent treatment for your Bernie heresy.

  34. 34
    hw3 says:

    Hope you get time to enjoy the Tamarack in Beckley. Wonderful place.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Clinton Supporter:

    At least all the Kool Kids are here.

  36. 36
    Wvblueguy says:

    Thank you from a southern West Virginian for what you are doing. Beckley is a good stop and will present you with few if any issues. Most serious damage was east of I77. It is wonderful to see so many come through for an area that already has so many problems. Wave to us in Bluefield when you go by just before the tunnel through East River Mountain that takes you into Virginia.

  37. 37
    Tony A. says:

    My hometown is awesome!

Comments are closed.