One minute, families in North Texas were celebrating the holidays. The next, they were wondering what in the heck just happened.
It was Christmas, a time when many people are glued to the couch in full relaxation mode. But on Dec. 26, 2015, in North Texas, tornadoes were ripping through neighborhoods, putting an end to any holiday festivities.
When all was said and done, the EF-4 tornadoes took 13 lives and damaged at least 2,000 buildings and homes in the area, leaving a devastating mark on what was supposed to be a holiday of loving and giving with family and friends.
In times of crisis, we see time and time again, that complete strangers have plenty of loving and giving to spare. Community members immediately jumped into action to help those affected by the storm and began to organize, donate, and figure out ways to help provide those in need with the essential three things: food, water, and shelter.
Food, water, and shelter are important, yes, but Candice Kuzov had a different thought: What about breast milk?
For breast-feeding moms in the wake of a tornado, a destroyed home or power outage greatly affects their ability to store frozen breast milk.
Candice knew there had to be moms out there who were in need of breast milk. And sure enough, she found one: a mom of twins in North Texas who lost her supply of 500 ounces of milk in the storm.
"I just asked around on Facebook for that first woman's need for breast milk donations and got blown away by the generosity. The response was so immediate and so overwhelming," Candice said.
Candice and her friend BethAnne were not only able to refill that mom's supply, but the requests to donate kept coming in.
Candice and three other women, Beth, BethAnne, and Stephanie, joined forces to help more nursing moms in need by donating their own breast milk.
"We're a group of moms who saw a need that nobody else did — because we're moms!" the group wrote on their Facebook page called Breastmilk Donations for TX Tornado Victims.
Together the women have been leading an effort in North Texas to supply moms affected by the storm with donor breast milk, breast pumps, and other nursing supplies to help moms and their babies at a crucial time.
"Breast milk is so personal," she says. "Some people don't want to take another person's, and that's fine. We have other ways to help too. We gave one mom, who is now living in a motel because of the storm, a blender so she can blend baby food for her baby."
So far, the group has delivered an estimated 4,014 ounces of breast milk to moms in need.
They are still actively trying to get in contact with any other moms who may not know about their efforts. (You can Facebook message them or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org!) Any extra breast milk they end up with will be donated to the NICU or local milk bank.
"When you’re a pumping mom, you spend hours of your life pumping that stuff. For people to give it to someone else it's definitely a blessing."
No one wants to face a natural disaster or emergency. But it's great that if and when it happens, the generosity of others can help ease the difficulty of it.
"You think in a disaster, you're saying, 'Oh my gosh, we need to donate clothes or canned goods,'" Candice says. "It doesn't even process that breast milk is also desperately needed for some."
What a solid (or should I say ... liquid, eh?) effort that brings the kind of support that makes a community a place you love to call home.