I have been exceptionally lucky my whole life to live on the outer fringes of disasters. I have never lived ona fault zone, but I have spent a great deal of my life in hurricane-prone regions. Although I have been nearby for some of the big ones - Hugo, Andrew, Floyd - I was always just far enough north, just high enough, just inland enough to escape the worst of the devastation. Except for the self-indulgent privations of camping, I have neber been without electricity or running water for more than two days. My basement has suffered a bit of seepage, a wind-whipped soffit; but I have never been flooded or had chunks of my roof blow off. My parents may have missed important school events due to scheduling conflicts, but they never failed to pick me up at the end of the day. I have never spent a night in a gym, knowing that my only possessions were the clothes I wore, listening to the wind and snow fall outside.
When I watch the news reports, the emotions I feel border on the incomprehensible and crippling - I simply cannot wrap my mind around the great difficulties that face these people as they try to find new patterns in their lives. They cannot even begin to clean up, as they live in such a remote region, with little or no equipment available to do the heavy lifting of moving the debris. As a reasonably empathetic person, I see these remote regions with little aid and I desperately want to help make it better. I have donated to the Japanese Red Cross, knowing that truly every bit helps, but as I look at the amount of work to be done I find myself wishing I had the skills to do more. If I were a reconstruction engineer I could organize systems to remove and consolidate debris, rebuild roads, or install bridges. If I were a deconstructions specialist I could turn empty shipping containers into self-contained flats, complete with the privacy desperately lacking in community shelters and so vital to the health of the human spirit. If I were a doctor I could diagnose colds and flu, treat wounds of the body and the sould, provide support to the individual and the massess. I cannot do any of that with the skills I have.
But I can quilt.
When Hugo came ashore and destroyed most of South Carolina north of Charleston, laying down century-old trees like toothpicks and destroying the forestry industry on it's rain- and wind-soaked path inland, I was watching my mother feed the dog half a valium and waiting in our snug home for the stomr to come. The destruction was widespread and clean-up and rebuilding lasted for months, and some industries never recovered. A few months after the storm I had the privilege of performing with my orchestra as part of the Hugo Arts Fund concert series. I did not realize it then, but I was witnessing the great power of something-for-something donations. Much grander concerts have been put on for bigger disasters since then, all with the same premise and result: the concert-goer gets something for their moeny, those who suffer receive aid that might otherwise have been withheld, and the artist has a hand in supporting an event or people they care about, even though they cannot provide the aid direclty themselves.
In addition to donating a blanket to Project Linus for every custom quilt I produce, I will donate 50% of the proceeds from every custom Bento box quilt ordered this year to the Japanese REd Cross. Every bit truly helps, so as you consider your spring gift-giving needs, please consider supporting those artists who share with the organizations that matter most to you.
And if you're wondering what the Bento Box block looks like, here's the finished Cupcake Bento top I've been working on: