It is a common thought experiment: if there was a fire, what would you save? You might consider your laptop, a few favorite clothes, some important documents. But this question fails to ask what you are saving your items for. After the fire is extinguished, do you have another place you can stay, people you can depend on?
This past week, the Knox community answered with a resounding yes. It is uplifting to see the support that seniors Janie Sutherd, Courtney Pletcher and Natasha Caudill have received from Campus Life, Campus Safety, peers, professors and parents.
After a devastating fire swept through their home, it is the least the community can do Ñ Director of Campus Safety Nathan Kemp providing them hot chocolate while they waited for the firemen and Knox student Lily Gates creating a GoFundMe page, all the people chipping in and ultimately surpassing the goal.
We often speak about the Knox community and what it should be like. It is regretful these are the circumstances, but for once we encountered what it looks like. One only has to read the comments of each donation, who and where each one came from to see how far this Knox community may reach and how far it may be willing to go, bit by bit.
Support did not manifest only through monetary donations, either. Pletcher said her phone was repeatedly buzzing with someone new checking in, asking if she was alright or offering food. The school opened up the empty former Asian Cultural House and gave the students keys.
Pletcher said she didn’t think they would have received this same level of support at another, larger school. Perhaps that is the benefit of a small community like Knox, that word may travel faster and here it is more likely that you, or someone near you, are friends with Sutherd, Pletcher and Caudill. In a small community there are fewer degrees of separation between us and hopefully that means fewer reasons not to help each other. After all, an electrical fire could happen to any one of us.
Plus, Sutherd, Pletcher and Caudill are all givers to campus. All three are Student Senators, Caudill has been since her freshman year and is President of Blessings in a Backpack.
Perhaps this also just speaks to the larger culture of care fostered on campus. Human powered means for many of us that we have each other’s backs no matter what comes our way. It’s good to see the same holds true in such an extreme circumstance.
Optimistically, a fire like this one is not necessary to catch a glimpse of what the Knox community can look like. This can be an opportunity to ask ourselves where we would go, who we would turn to if we were faced with sudden, unforeseen destruction.
If you don’t know the answer, a good beginning is to show up for others in need, to give. That way, after putting work into this cycle of generosity, that cycle may come back for you.