The city of Joplin, MO was hit by a powerful tornado on Sunday, May 22. Widespread damage from a tornado that flattened 6 1/2 miles of the City taking churches, the HS, and the top floors of a hospital in the 200 mph winds and throwing them as much as 75 miles away.
Friends and family paid tribute to victims of the Joplin tornado on Friday beginning the grim task of burying the dead as officials said the savage storm’s death toll had risen to 132 people with 156 still missing.
This is the deadliest single U.S. twister in more than six decades.
Needless to say, Hugs has sent bears …300 from National and more from chapters around the country. Perhaps this one response from a minister who received bears will help us understand what the teddies mean.
“I was in the midst of just beginning to understand the scope of the terrible storm striking Joplin–calling people in the congregation, hearing the radio news in the background, getting an emergency response center started up… beginning to get ready for what I knew would be a huge task for the thousands of people in the area. Then the phone rang — and a wonderful woman said, ‘I have bears for the children from your apartments that were destroyed–how many can you use.’ I was simply overcome–here was a person from over 1,000 miles away who found out about Joplin and just wanted to help. At that moment, I really began to understand that I was not in this alone … people really cared … people were praying … people were prepared to do something immediately to make a difference. I immediately told the few workers who were helping … we have help on the way … and the spirit of this place turned from stress and anxiety to hope … we were truly not alone. Thank you, Hugs … on May 23rd you again lived out your name, stretching your arms over 1,000 miles to a pastor struggling to understand and respond to the many needs of our hurting people, and gave a hug of comfort and presence. And the bears hadn’t even left your place. God bless you!”
Rev. Tracy R. Bair,
Royal Heights United Methodist Church, Joplin, MO