Thank God for Exploding Soda

Thank God for Exploding Soda

"A tragic tornado ripped through the midwest in December. Arthur took his trailer, loaded up various items from community donations and blessed so many with his kindness. We at St John would like to thank Arthur, his wife, his cousin, and ALL of the amazing members of our community that donated to this. Even with it being so close to Christmas, you all stepped up and really made a difference in so many lives! Thank you!!"

By Arthur Copeland:

I want to preface the events by saying although the tragedy of what occurred in these communities were gut wrenching and heartbreaking but without suffering there is no compassion. The very fabric that holds our society and humanity together is our willingness to help our neighbors in times of need. It was a blessing and a very humbling experience to be part of this. Having been in a similar situation, many years ago the love and support of our community is one of the many things that helped my family overcome our own tragedy. I cannot express enough thanks to all those that contributed to this mission.
When I started this I had no idea what I was doing, I just know I felt a deep calling that I needed to do something to help. Despite having setbacks and my best-laid plans not going as I wanted them to, I couldn't see just how miraculously everything came together in the end.

The outpouring of the community that spread as far as Indiana with donations and support was overwhelming. In the midst of planning our trip, I had stumbled upon a news story about a young man in Mayfield by the name of Elijah Hernandez, age 8. He had lost his pet rabbits in
the tornado, so I started searching the local area for some bunnies to take to this young man upon our arrival (this will be important for later).

So the remaining week prior to leaving I started putting the word out to anyone I could
to help me locate some bunnies and kept coming up empty. Finally, two days before
our departure I located a woman in Bluffton, Indiana that had just two bunnies left that were ready to go. I felt confident that everything from this point would be smooth sailing having accomplished everything I wanted to do upon our arrival.

Friday morning arrived and we were up early and excited to start the journey. The trip
to our unloading destination in Owensboro, Kentucky was uneventful. We arrived at
the warehouse right on time at our preset appointment arranged by the state police. An off duty state trooper and a volunteer greeted us and we proceeded to unload the contents of the truck having the task done in record time. By 11am, we were on our way to Mayfield to deliver Elijah's bunnies and meet with the church contact to give the donation cash we had collected. This is where things got interesting, on our way to Mayfield my wife had a slight mishap her bottle of Dr. Pepper had exploded when she went to remove the cap due to being shaken from the ride. Naturally, we had to stop and clean the mess putting us behind schedule.

Once we arrived at the church in Mayfield at about 2 in the afternoon we made contact
with some volunteers from Puerto Rico that were using the common area of the church
to distribute hot meals and supplies to the community. No one from the church had
called us back at this point nor were any of the church members present, so the head
volunteer tried to help us locate this little boy through the help of her contacts from the
local community.

We were there for a total of 3 hours with no luck at all in locating Elijah. In the midst of waiting a young recently divorced mother of four children pulled into the drive-thru donation area and was completely distraught having lost a great deal in the storm including all she had gotten her children for Christmas. The lead volunteer that we had been speaking to had approached us and asked if we had anything left on the truck that we could give to this young mother. We told
her all we had left were the bunnies and the donation money we had collected.

So we walked over to this mother's SUV and gave her a portion of the money so she could buy what she needed for her children. Immediately she got out and was overwhelmed with tears of joy and kept hugging and thanking us. My wife, myself, the volunteer were all in tears and this young woman insisted on a group photo with all of us. Had we not gotten delayed by the exploding soda we would have missed her entirely.

Still having no luck in locating Elijah we started to lose hope that we would be able to so we started heading back towards the interstate. My wife suggested we went to the local Walmart in Mayfield which thankfully wasn't damaged by the tornado. Since we still had donation money to distribute and had not gotten any calls from the church members, she wanted to personally bless random people within the store. So we wandered around listening and talking to people about their experiences and losses from the previous weeks passing out the remaining cash to people in need.

Several more joyful tears and hugs later we were making our way to the exit when we came across a family of 8 mom and dad with 6 children. After talking with them and giving them some cash I had randomly asked if they knew Elijah Hernandez by chance. Turns out he was their nephew and they at first was confused and apprehensive to give me any information until I
explained the situation with the bunnies. After which they called his parents and told them I had a present for Elijah, they gave me the address to their home, we immediately left after thanking them profusely and made our way to the address. My wife and I were completely blown away by the previous events, we arrived delivered the bunnies and had a brief conversation with the family then was on our way back to Ohio....mission accomplished and feeling very thankful for the opportunity to bring joy to people who were hurting and bringing a smile to their faces in a time of need.

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