Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Letters to the Editor

December 3, 2013

Sal Alaniz Jr.: Volunteer extraordinaire

Sal’s phone rings at 2 a.m. He answers on the second ring. Sal was up anyway, prowling the internet. It’s the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department. There’s been a rural house fire, a family with three children are homeless. “I’ll be right there,” Sal responds. On his way out, Sal grabs a sack of Laura’s Grace. “Well,” he says to himself. What will this day bring?”

Sal is a Red Cross Volunteer. He has served on site after hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and the tornado in Moore, Okla. Most recently, he spent three days in Washington, Ill. after the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the town. He kept a journal while there, and emailed back entries to friends, acquaintances and other volunteers. Here are a few exerts: “Today was an ebb, tomorrow an expected flow.” “Flexibility. A word — a mantra with Red Cross.” “Service is never idle. Seek and ye shall find.” “Say ‘Hi, how are you?’ to someone, and mean it. And listen. And listen.” “Each person begins the process of recovery. The recovery which comes from within is greater than ourselves.” “We can’t control Mother Nature. We can control our response.”

Sal will be making a second trip to Washington, Ill.

Through Red Cross training, Sal knows that the average time spent with each disaster victim is eight minutes. In that time he must assess, respond and provide what is needed in the way of food, clothing, shelter and financial assistance. In addition to Red Cross procedure, Sal adds his personal touch — Laura’s Grace. Laura’s Grace are bags of stuffed animals, toys, crayons, coloring books, blankets, etc. for kids (and adults). These bags have been prepared by Laura McPheil of Winfield, and can be so impactful to those in need. Between Sal and Laura, over 1,500 bags of Laura’s Grace have been distributed. Walk into Sal’s business on Main Street in Mt. Pleasant, and the first thing you see are bag upon bag of Laura’s Grace, each with the head of a stuffed animal or doll head poking out. Sal calls them his “greeters.”

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Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about food prices. Are you paying more than you were last year for certain food items? According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, "the cost of 16 food items" increased by 3.5 over 2013, as reported by the Des Moines Register. So, the question of the week is, "Are you feeling the food price increase pinch?"

A. Yes, and it hurts.
B. No, I don't feel a thing.
C. Not sure.
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