Beyond the Uniform: Airman Moore “Help for Harvey”

As I peered over the steering wheel of the 12-foot box truck, I felt an incredible sense of certainty. Just two months prior I had this desire to do something to help. I remember staring, as we all did, at the tragic scenes of devastation unfolding when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. People were photographed fleeing their homes and standing in front of what had been their lives. All the while, I observed this in my dry, air-conditioned apartment- at that point, I knew I had to help.
Coming from a small town in Wisconsin I knew the strength of community in our great state. The more I shared my passion to help, the more affirmation I received, this ignited the flame that became the charity  I named “Help for Harvey.” In the following weeks I made countless phone calls and the resounding tone was that essential hygiene items and clothing were of dire need. Soon after, I started calling and making requests to fill the box truck that I intended to drive to Houston.  I was very fortunate to receive generous donations from small businesses, individuals, and my 115th Air National Guard family.
There was a moment, the night before I was set to leave, when I was surrounded knee-deep in donations and empty boxes. I was never overwhelmed with the work or the lost sleep, but I was overwhelmed with people’s generosity. The outpouring of love and support I received in the 8-week time period it took to mobilize every detail, was absolutely breathtaking. With a 12-foot-box truck, filled about 90 percent full, I began the trek early the morning of November 6th. 
1,197 miles spanned from Madison, Wisconsin to Pearland Neighborhood Center, the first of my three stops. When I arrived, I was struck at how normal the city looked but as I trekked to the southern part of the city the edges of infrastructure began to unravel.  I was greeted with smiles at the small center and moved on to Mission Homestead, a emergency response of Free Indeed Church. It was here, that the donations made the biggest impact; I spent hours unloading hygiene items from the truck and helping the church in their distribution center. Mission Homestead serves as a warehouse where members of the community are allotted a specific amount of hygiene items a week. The center is operating by donation and impacts thousands of individuals daily.

By far the most rewarding moment of my trip was the connections I was able to make here, the hugs of appreciation made all the lost hours of sleep worth it. Many residents lived in nearby apartments and had lost everything to flood damage. I was absolutely blown away by the volunteers and community found within this organization. My last stop was at Star of Hope, a large homeless shelter that opened just two days after the hurricane hit. The clothing donated there will help thousands in the coming weeks.
Looking back on my trip for “Help for Harvey,” I still cannot believe how everything came together. As an Airman our core values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do, really resonated with me. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for the support I felt from my Air Force family, I would have never felt empowered to complete this massive undertaking. I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to have been able to make an impact in so many lives and just wish still, that there was more that I could do.