Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kindness Plug

For the most part, I have relegated kindness plugs to Your Turn, but this one is too big, and too important to be combined with lots of others. As always, the words below are from the reader who sent this in. I did remove Brooke's last name, her identifying information, and I added the photo above.

Dear ENT,

My name is Brooke, and I'm a loyal CDAN reader. I currently reside in the Bay Area, but I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, IA. I'm writing to see whether you would be willing to promote an upcoming auction that I've organized to raise funds for the animals displaced by the recent devastating flood of the Cedar River. As of June 16, damage estimates have exceeded ONE BILLION ($1,000,000,000) dollars. In a town of only 120,000 people, this is beyond catastrophic. In fact, FEMA described the devastation as the equivalent of a 9.2 earthquake, and has classified the Cedar Rapids flood as the third-biggest national disaster in recent history (after Hurricane Katrina and 9/11).

Thousands of animals have been left homeless by the flood. The Cedar Rapids animal shelter has been completely destroyed. Many people had to abandon their pets when they evacuated their homes, and it is unclear when--if ever--they will be reunited. The situation is dire, and support is desperately needed.

The auction will be held at from June 25-July 2. All funds raised will be directed to a special "Friends of the Animal Shelter" fund via the Kirkwood Foundation (tax ID 23-7076632), which is the fundraising division of the Kirkwood Community College, currently serving as the temporary shelter for displaced animals. There are several hundred dogs, even more cats, and other companion animals being housed there, and many, many more animals are still stranded in the tens of thousands of abandoned homes.

The Kirkwood Foundation and Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter are working together on the evacuation center--the animal shelter's building was completely destroyed in the flood, so they are hoping to rebuild on the Kirkwood campus.

More information about both organizations is available at and

I have consulted with the directors of both the Kirkwood Foundation and the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter on this project. Also, my uncle, the Kirkwood grounds supervisor, was instrumental in transforming several campus buildings into makeshift care centers for the animals, so I have a unique insight on the magnitude of this tragedy. My city is gone, and countless lives have been forever changed.

The theme of the auction is "Indulge Yourself to Save Lives." So far, 40 companies have pledged lot contributions to raise funds for the evacuated animals. The participating companies are primarily run by independent artisans of bath & body products, fragrances, hair care, gourmet food, pet products, and jewelry. Today, I started a campaign targeting family-run wineries in Napa and Sonoma, and have already received two magnums of blanc de blancs, donated by Schramsberg. I feel that your loyal readers will be very interested in the items available through the auction, as well as the welfare of the animals who will benefit from it.

I would love to have this cause considered for your upcoming "Your Turn" posting on Friday. All of the lots will be going up on Friday and Saturday, so the timing would be perfect to drum up interest in the site. You can also post a countdown clock to the auction with the following code:

Thank you for your interest! Hopefully, we can work together to bring attention to this important event, and bring hope to a community so desperately in need.

Warm regards,



lg&m said...

Being an Iowan I want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out. I do not live in Cedar Rapids, but it was completely devestating to see it happen to our families and friends. I think it's amazing how everyone is putting twords an effort to help people they do not know.

Sinjin said...

Awwww. I'll step up with a donation. It breaks my heart to see animals suffer and love people then get left behind. Under no circumstances would I EVER leave my Pommie behind. Seriously.

jax said...

i'll do what i can from here..but Brooke do you know if any of the animals will be on

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Bless you, Brooke and EL.

captivagrl said...

this disaster is not getting enough coverage. i'll check out the auction for sure.

lutefisk said...

Brooke-- I saw this on Starringfragrances yesterday! What a great job you & everyone are doing for such a worthwhile cause.

Joanna said...

Really true, captivagrl. I'm just hoping that there will be a state left by the time I go back to school up there. :\
Most of my home town is destroyed, and I have a friend who's family was in Parkersburg - which is gone now, and more friends in Cedar Falls and Iowa City. It's getting absolutely ridiculous. 25,000+ homeless now...

Unknown said...

Thank you ENT for posting this so quickly, and thank you CDAN readers for your concern.

The animals will all be held at the temporary Kirkwood shelter until July 1, to give people time to come in and find their pets. After that, all remaining animals will go up for adoption. There are already more than 1000 animals at the shelter, and hundreds more coming in every day.

Here's the Petfinder page for the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter:

We just received word that my fiance's father lost the entire inventory of his appliance store. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of refrigerators, stoves, washers & dryers, etc., were all thrown into a wall by the force of the flood current. That's how powerfully the water came, and it breaks my heart to think how the animals left behind suffered in the deluge. We all owe it to the survivors to come together and provide assistance, and I am so grateful that CDAN is supporting this cause.

CarolMR said...

I also noticed that this tragedy is not getting a lot of coverage. Maybe because Iowa is a flyover red state and the media don't really care.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'm so glad others realize that the media is largely overlooking the scope of this tragedy. Like CarolMR, I think it's because the vast majority of people have never been to Cedar Rapids and it doesn't have the name recognition of New York or New Orleans. It's so unfortunate that Iowa is known simply as a "flyover red state" (I'm not arguing with you at all CarolMR--I totally agree that it's the general public conception), when the state is actually quite beautiful and filled with smart people. The Cedar Rapids-Iowa City corridor, in particular, is pretty solidly blue politically. :)

CarolMR said...

brooke, I agree that Cedar Rapids doesn't have the name recognition of big cities like NYC and New Orleans. Actually, when I called Iowa a red flyover state, I meant it as a compliment. But most media outlets just don't look at it that way. And I doubt, that Hollywood will sponsor any fundraisers for Iowa, which is a shame.

Anonymous said...

Brooke have you tried other gossip sites like TMZ, Perezhilton, etc.... to help you out like ENT is doing.

Unknown said...

CarolMR, I just wanted to be clear that I totally agree with your earlier post--I hope I didn't come across like I was offended or anything. If only there was a telethon or something like Hollywood put together for 9/11 & Katrina, but I also don't see that happening. (Both due to the lack of attention, and the horrible state of the economy.) One star has taken it upon himself to pitch in: Jay Leno is doing two special shows at the Mirage next week to benefit the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation:

Dead Angel said...

Thanks for letting us know about this, it's so tragic that animals are still trapped in homes with no water and food, I am just sick at the thought of that happening.

Brook, you are wonderful for doing this. I am so there.

captivagrl said...

Brooke - send something over to Gawker, lots of animal lovers with lots of money....

Dee Ree said...

Also an Iowan here. We live about 20 miles from the town of Oakville that was completely lost. Some friends of ours helped to sandbag and evacuate. Very tragic event.
I agree there has not been nearly enough media coverage on this horrific situation.

I've seen quite a bit on how it will affect the prices of corn and beef, but not much else.

We thankfully are far enough away from all the rivers to be affected but not so far away we don't know people whose lives it has uprooted.

What a wonderful cause for the misplaced animals. People don't always remember they are the most helpless victims of weather and castastrophic happenings.

Carte Blanche said...

Thanks Brooke for writing such a moving letter and reminding us of the helpless animals that are also victims of this tragedy.

I'll be visiting the site.

kitty said...

I attend University of Iowa...the campus is in ruins, as well as the surrounding cities. It's especially hard because right now all people can do it wait for the water to subside, but until then thousands of people are without homes, vehicles, and have lost their businesses.

I hope that we can try to spread Brooke's great idea to other media outlets to help get this tragedy the attention and resources it needs.

Judi said...

Done, Brooke. Thanks for letting us know and for all the great work by the good people of Kirkwood, your uncle and the others at the Animal Shelter. We HAVE to help them.

PollyPureBred said...

I can't get the links to work... I'd like to spread the word with others (including loving pet owners and vets).
By the way - I think the media coverage has been great and very complimentary of the people in the path of the flood. You're good folk!

Unknown said...

Hi everyone,

Here are the links:

Auction homepage:

Direct link to donation page:

I also wrote a bulletin about the auction that people can easily copy and forward to their friends--if you'd like me to send it to you, just drop me an e-mail at

Thanks again for your support--CDAN readers are amazing!

MRM said...

Here it is 10:36PM Iowa time. Just finished reading my emails and planning for tomorrow tasks for my regular job as the Grounds Supervisor here at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My day starts at 4:00 AM, a 45-minute workout from 5-5:45AM, to the shop by 6:30AM, meet with my Grounds personnel leaving them duties/tasks for the day, then heading down to the three temporary animal shelters here on campus before 7:00AM, to unlock the doors, turn on the lights and get things ready for many volunteers to arrive to assist with the care of many hundreds of displaced, abandoned, sheltered animals we have here on campus. These animals need us to care for them in their time of need. The many families from this area need us to be there to provide whatever help and assistance necessary to ensure that the quality of life here in Iowa remains strong when things haven't gone so well these past few weeks. I can't give enough praise for the tireless work ethic of all who have adjusted their schedules to volunteer at these shelters. Without them, the fate of these animals would be grime. They take the time to walk the dogs. They take the time to give the the dogs a chance to run, play/lay in the grass. They take the time to just sit and talk with them while they lay there enjoying the fresh air and warm sun that hasn't been around much lately. They take the time to allow these dogs to have fun and be a dog. When I say we have cats and kittens, I mean that we have cats and kittens, hundreds of them. Yes, they too are getting unbelievable care. Each volunteer in this area watches over them as if they were there own. Although they may be a stray, there lives are just as important as those who are currently being housed in the shelter because their past home is now gone. I haven't even touch on the parrots, the ferrets, the canaries, the rats, the mice or the turtles and snakes. Sounds like Noah's Ark, a zoo, a wildlife park. No, it's Kirkwood Community College, a place that takes the time to care for it's community and the animals within. The support and care begins with the unbelievable people working for the various rescue quads,police and fire departments. These people are out there doing a thankless job that many cannot comprehend. The risks they take for these animals are extremely dangerous. Even though it's just a cat, it's more than that, it's a life, it may be someone's pet, it may be someone's companion that means everything to them, it's the reason why when you come home for a stressful day, you know you can count on your pet to be there to give you the love that only they know how to give! When someone walks in to one of our shelters and identifies with the animal in one of the pens, the feeling you get from this reunion is overwhelming. I swear, not only is the owner shedding tears of joy, but so too is their pet, their companion. This is why we choose to work the hours we work. This is why around 8:00PM we locked up the Temporary Animal Shelter at the Tippie Beef Education Center, the Iowa Equestrian Center and the Animal Health Technology Building for the day. This is why we choose to do it all over again tomorrow, for however long it takes. Sorry about the long message, but I wanted to let everyone know that your comments are taken to heart. I can't find any other words than Thank You for being there for the people and animals here in Iowa. Most important, thank you to my niece Brooke, who has also made the decision to do whatever it takes to make a diffence in the lives of her fellow Iowan's, Cedar Rapidians and the animals sheltered here at Kirkwood. I am proud of what she has accomplished in such a short period of time and hope that everyone takes part in the auction which will mean so much to these animals that ask for so little. It's great to be an Iowan. . .MRM

Production Girl said...

I only know so much about this because I lived in one of the towns that is completely buried right outside of CR and have friends out there.

My heart goes out to everyone in this disaster. I'm still in shock over this.

mooshki said...

What a great idea. Thanks Brooke, and Ent, for bringing this to our attention!

Unknown said...

I grew up in Ohio, where my Mom was from, but my Dad was born and raised in eastern Iowa, and we went to stay with our relations and help out on the farm every summer. Years ago, when my grandpa was still alive and my husband and I were taking our leave following his first visit there, he was very quiet as we drove away. A couple of minutes later, he turned to me and said, "I've never felt more listened to in my life." I can't think of a better way to sum up the people there: salt of the earth, humble, hardworking and uncomplaining, grateful for the smallest kindness, affectionate, generous of spirit, and truly interested in and attentive to whatever you bring to the conversation. And we will never know the extent of their efforts on behalf of others because they just don't brag or draw attention to themselves. You won't hear whining, you won't see finger-pointing. A TV reporter walked up to a guy who was bagging sand and asked him how he had been affected by the flood. He said, "Well, my store is gone, so I'll do what I can where I'm needed." What do we have to do to bring attention--and resources--to the catastrophic losses these people have suffered? When I look at that arial photo, all I can think of is people whose lives have been ground down to powder, and I feel brokenhearted. If anyone knows what reputable charities are on the ground and really digging in to help there, please post so we'll know where to contribute.

Unknown said...

Here are links to charities operating on the ground in flood zones. All are tax-deductable/

Kirkwood Friends of the Animal Shelter: (be sure to select "Friends of the Animal Shelter" in the Designation drop-down menu)

Cedar Rapids branch of the American Red Cross:

Cedar Rapids branch of the Salvation Army:

Greater Cedar Rapids Foundation:

University of Iowa Flood Fund:

I also wanted to post a link to an article on the relief efforts at Kirkwood:

Thanks again to everyone who has expressed their support. It means more than I can say.

bionic bunny! said...

let's see if blogger works today:
i've never been to iowa, but my brother lives near the flood zone. you're right, we wouldn't have been aware of the massive destruction had it not been for him.

brooke, this touches my heart, and i want to say thank you for doing what you are. i will definitely be checking out the auction and making a donation.


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