Today has been another day of horrific fires in NSW, we're only in October, this is February type of fires. I've been stuck in my office catching a glimpse of the sky and watching it turn from blue to beige to ruddy brown thick with smoke only realising there was a tragedy unfolding as Twitter and newsreels started to fill up with stories and images of what was happening on our back door. Driving around doing our after school activities, my boys and I watched the sky, inhaled the smoke and wiped ash off our arms knowing that in our safe spot by the beaches, we were lucky. I'm an avid am radio station fan. I listened intently as I drove. With local telephone lines down, people were calling the station in shock with stories of their loss while others called with offers of help.
There were offers of beds, of clothing, of animal sitting, of furniture, of immediate food and water supplies. Business owners called with no agenda other than to offer help. A school canteen owner in the area offered his stock to children "so they don't go hungry or thirsty, - just come down and get it if you can". I choked down tears as I listened to the community rallying, literally.
In the early days of public giving in NZ, we had 48 hour telethons, and yes although the causes were promoted we gave our $10 so some celebrity from some British soap opera would mention our name over the telly Often there was an agenda, yes we wanted to do good, but also, yes, a little bit of us wanted to be seen to be doing this. Maybe too many disasters have touched too many people since then. Giving is an act of necessity now.
Once after an overseas natural disaster, I was visiting a friend. She had a pile of blankets that she'd quietly collected and was sending overseas to the devastated area. I would never have known about this if I hadn't popped in. She hadn't just offered up her credit card number. She had got busy.
But really how you help isn't as important as the fact you do help.
Because often at the worst of times, we see the best of people.