The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Mike Pound

July 13, 2011

Mike Pound: Good people everywhere keep on giving

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s getting so you can’t swing a cat over your head without hitting somebody doing something nice for Joplin.

Now, before I start getting hateful emails, I should point out that I’m not actually suggesting that anyone swing a cat over his or her head. That would be wrong. Funny, but wrong.

Besides, if someone is doing something nice for you, the last thing you probably should do to that someone is hit him with a cat. So, again, please do not swing a cat over your head. No matter how funny it may seem.

Wednesday afternoon, I was chatting on the phone with a nice guy by the name of Peter Birk. Peter, originally from Joplin, is the executive chef of a restaurant in Seattle, Wash., called Ray’s Boathouse. I was talking to Peter because he and Mike Chase, another Seattle chef who also is a former Joplin resident, put together a fundraiser at Ray’s Boathouse that brought in $20,000 for the Joplin tornado relief effort..

I thought that was petty neat, and next Wednesday we will have a story about Peter and Mike’s fundraiser in the paper’s On the Table section.

While I was talking to Peter, he mentioned that a group of women in Seattle made some 100 quilts for families who had been displaced by the May 22 tornado. I thought that was neat too, so after I finished talking to Peter, I dialed up Susan Webster, the owner of the Gathering Fabric Quilt Shop.

Susan is the woman who organized the quilt drive. Susan heard from a former employee who now lives in Kansas City that the Town and Country Quilt Guild of Joplin lost most of its quilting materials and equipment in the tornado.

“I figured that since they lost the supplies and cutting materials that they wouldn’t be able to make quilts for the people in Joplin who needed them,” Susan said. “I knew we could get quilts, so I put out a call and 100 of them came in.”

I don’t know about you, but to me there is something about the gift of quilts that makes sense at a time like this. Susan said that a quilt “represents comfort,” and she’s right. I can think of no better gift to give someone looking to rebuild a home after a terrible storm than the gift of a quilt. It’s one of those small gestures that looms large.

There was, however, one little hitch in Susan’s drive to get quilts to folks in Joplin.

“We had the quilts, but we didn’t have any way to get them to Joplin,” Susan said.

OK, it wasn’t a little hitch. It was a big hitch. But Susan doesn’t sound like someone who lets hitches get in her way. She got online and saw a story about Peter and his fundraiser for Joplin and asked him for help. Peter, in turn, suggested Susan call a family friend who runs a very well known trucking company in Joplin.

“I called several times, and they must have thought I was some nut case or some crazy lady,” she said. “But the fact was, I did have all these quilts.”

The guy in charge of the trucking company called Susan back and, in her words, “Made it happen.”

By the way, I contacted the trucking company and verified Susan’s story. However, the person I spoke with wasn’t sure if the company wanted to make a big deal out of what they did to help get the quilts to Joplin. Knowing the guy in charge of the trucking company, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t looking for a pat on the back when he did what he did. But Herb, on behalf of the lucky people who will soon be getting those quilts: Thank you.

And thank you, Susan, and please thank all of your fellow quilters.

You all did a neat thing.

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Tornado: Mike Pound