I couldn’t sit still any longer after watching the week-long coverage of the devastation in Colorado Springs happening right in our own backyards. I looked at picture after picture of fellow Coloradoans losing homes and firefighters working day and night to try and contain these fires, without any relief from the weather. When I received a call this past Friday from Community Outreach about working together to find a way to help, I jumped at the chance. After a few phone calls, we found out that the Care and Share Food Bank was in need of snacks for the firefighters. I immediately sent an e-mail to the Denver Station Employees asking for our Southwest Warriors to help me deliver snacks on Sunday, July 1. With less than 48 hours until delivery, the quick response made me proud to be a Southwest Airlines Employee. On Sunday, we rolled up our sleeves and loaded 34,000 of Southwest’s peanuts, pretzels, and snack packs in the back of pickup trucks. Many hands make light work, and we were done very quickly. Before long, we were headed to Colorado Springs to donate these snacks to the hardworking firefighters. As we drove, I enjoyed good conversation with one of my Coworkers, Mark. We talked about our personal paths that led us to Southwest Airlines and the other places we had worked and lived. We also talked about our opportunity to volunteer that day and how rewarding it was, as we both wanted to help support our community. Mark had just transferred to Denver from Newark, and it was his first chance to do any volunteer work here. I have been fortunate to be in Denver for four years now and have volunteered many times in many different ways. I love giving back and find it very rewarding to help others who are in need. But this time felt different—probably because I had never been part of something where people were in such desperate need of help. As we passed by the United States Air Force Academy, we could see the fires burning on the mountain behind the school. It was a somber moment as we had seen the pictures and videos from this fire earlier in the week and knew the destruction it had caused. For me, seeing with my own eyes why we were there that day gave us even more purpose. Knowing what the firefighters were up against and that we were helping support their cause gave me a great feeling of pride. Our conversation fell silent for a long time as we were in awe of the incredible scene to the west. Once we arrived at the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, our four-vehicle convoy of volunteers pulled into the loading dock area of the Food Bank and our Team of Warriors, along with the Care and Share volunteer crew, began unloading our donation. As we were offloading, I began talking to some of the Food Bank volunteers. There was a couple who told me they had lost their home in the fire the week before and wanted to help the group that had helped them. It was amazing watching this group work so efficiently to unload, stack, and put away the four truckloads of snacks we brought. Lynne Telford, President and CEO of Care and Share, came out to thank us for our support of the area firefighters. I thanked her for the tour and for the incredible service that she and her Team were providing. Our Team began to assist in the process of unloading and putting away goods—it was as if none of us wanted to leave or stop helping, but we soon made our way back to our vehicles. At the end of the day, I couldn’t help but think of how fortunate we all were to have the resources to react so quickly when our community was in need. I was pretty quiet on my drive back, and for those of you who know me, that is a rare thing. I reflected on the day and how proud I am to work with such a great group of People and how lucky I am to work for such a generous Company. I will keep the People of Colorado Springs in my thoughts for some time to come, as I know they have a long road ahead. Hopefully, the brave men and women fighting the wildfires in our state will soon have them under control and make it home safe and sound. I will remember this experience for a long time, and I hope to have the opportunity to be called on to help again.
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