“Thank You” To the American Red Cross

by Shelley Fowler

I received it in the mail last Friday. The envelope bore the return address of the American Red Cross, Enid , Oklahoma . Inside was a typed letter, a note and a keychain - a very nice one, I might add. It was made of black leather, with a silver, metal circle on which was stamped “American Red Cross”. It was night, no one else was getting their mail, and so I just stood there for awhile, feeling the weight of the keychain in my hand, and remembering…..

The American Red Cross came to our rescue that snowy, Sunday afternoon, and it came in the wonderful guise of Michael Pokorny, a Red Cross representative based out of Enid . He had already delivered supplies to Guymon, and he thought his mission was to drop off supplies here, then return to Enid that same evening. But plans have a way of changing, and Michael stayed - not because he had to, but because he wanted to.

At the Senior Citizen's Center, with volunteers pitching in, Michael unloaded his trailer that was filled with bottled water, supplies and containers of hot food and coffee that had been made by the Baptist Men's Association. With those supplies, many cold and hungry truckers and travelers received their first warm meal in several days. And with those same volunteers, the trailer was once again loaded, when the decision was made to move the operation to the county fair building. At that location, more people were fed that evening, beneath lights and heat provided by a generator.

All the while, Michael was in action, answering questions and showing volunteers what to do. American Red Cross cots were produced, as were blankets, for those who would spend the next several nights at the shelter. And even as I left that evening, Michael was still smiling, although he must have been so tired. It was New Year's Eve, 2006. And guess where this Red Cross representative spent the night meant for celebrating? In his pickup (hopefully beneath a Red Cross blanket), out in the frozen parking lot of the fair building!

Thankfully, the first sunrise of 2007 was a bright one, albeit a very cold one. Michael was on duty when I arrived, and until he left that day, he remained helpful, friendly and kind. He was gracious to all the volunteers serving food, and appreciative for what they were doing to help him do his job.

Later, after I had said goodbye to him and he drove away, I stood there thinking, “This is how it is supposed to work. People helping people help people.” And Michael was one of those first people. He had suddenly appeared, and was just as suddenly gone. He left behind not only supplies, but also a sense of genuine goodness. And by his actions, he had shown me first hand just what the American Red Cross does for thousands of people all around the world - offer help when help is needed. Thank you so much, Michael!