When floodwater from Tropical Storm Fay drove dozens of east Charlotte residents from their homes in August, Kat Armstrong and a group of her online friends took action.
They began collecting clothes, furniture, bed linens and other items to donate to the people who lost just about everything when muddy water filled their apartments. “Our neighbors were left with nothing,” Armstrong says. “And I know what that's like.”
Although she calls them neighbors, Armstrong doesn't live in the flood-ravaged Doral or Cavalier apartments, nor does she personally know any of the residents. They're neighbors to her because she understands their plight.
Twenty years ago, Armstrong lost practically everything when her apartment caught fire. At the time, she was a struggling single mom raising a daughter. Fortunately, concerned neighbors came to their aid.
Armstrong belongs to an online recycling group called Freecycle Charlotte. One of its members came up with the idea to help the residents of the apartments, posting a request for donations to replace personal belongings destroyed by the flooding.
“We had an overwhelming response,” says Armstrong, who served as east Charlotte's representative for the donations. She collected and helped distribute the items.
She estimates that about 10,000 people throughout the Charlotte area contacted Freecycle to donate items.
I learned about Freecycle's effort to help flood victims after a reader sent an e-mail notifying me about what the group was doing. The e-mail was in response to a recent column I wrote wondering about what east Charlotteans are doing to improve a part of the city that's struggling to redefine itself.
My comments touched a nerve. Many sent vehement e-mails expressing outrage that someone would suggest residents are simply sitting on their hands.
Of course I realize there are several groups and individuals working tirelessly to make our community a desirable place to live. I've written about them in the past. But I wanted to hear more.
Among the ideas were invitations for two big events:
On Thursday is the annual Taste of the World Restaurant Tour. International-flavored dinner samples will be offered during a guided tour of east Charlotte restaurants. For more informatio, visit http://charlotteeast.com/TasteofWorldnext.htm.
Saturday, east Charlotte steps out in style during the annual Black Tie Gala at the Charlotte Museum of History from 6 until 9 p.m. The gala is a fundraiser for the Charlotte East Community Partners, which advocates for east Charlotte residents and businesses. To RSVP, contact Shelin Wilder, 704-563-1289.