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sofa king's Journal
Posted by sofa king in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu May 10th 2007, 01:25 PM
By virtue of my status as the luckiest brother in the world, yesterday I had the privilege of doing something I didn't think I'd ever have the chance to do.

I got to do a little volunteer work for Virginia Tech.

Specifically, I got to spend a couple hours helping to process the enormous volume of mail that VPI has been getting in the wake of the shootings there. I worked in a room which was literally full of letters and packages, in an office which was still more full of letters and packages.

The staff there has obviously become expert at guessing what each package is without opening it. My job was to open, record and sort a corner of the room which had already been pre-sorted by shape and weight as banners and stacks of sympathy cards.

There was mail from every corner of the nation, from places I was only dimly aware of or had never heard of before: Three Rivers, Michigan; Immaculata, Pennsylvania; Carbondale, Illinois. There were banners signed by university students from universities I didn't even know existed. Television stations sent signatures and photographs of candlelight vigils. Churches sent hymns and poems crafted for the occasion. Entire classrooms of children sent the most beautiful drawings and fingerpaintings, often on maroon and orange paper. Each package, so thoughtfully and carefully put together, was a unique expression of anguish and sympathy, but each was also sadly similar.

I'm not the most emotionally stable guy in the world. This was pretty hard for me. As a researcher I automatically began to carefully document what I was finding, but with the very first banner I checked in (from Baylor University in Waco, Texas) I also realized that due to the huge volume I might be the only person who actually had a chance to read some of what was sent. So I made sure to read at least one message from each submission.

And that's when America began to speak to me.

A student from Irvine, California told me to keep my chin up. The improbably named Holly Goforth from South Carolina told me from her fifth-grade desk that all would be well. Alabama cares. So does Oklahoma. One package seemed to be sent directly to me. Paraphrased, the cover letter said, "We know you're probably going through a rough time right now, so here are some amusing pictures from our first graders to help cheer you up." I choked back a tear, as I am right now, and chuckled, and looked at every one of them.

I'm just one person, and I haven't been a student at Virginia Tech in over fifteen years, but I'm sure I speak for all of them--for all of us--when I say, "thank you America." Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Thank you for reminding us of the goodness that dwells in our hearts.
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