Friday, August 12, 2016

Spending Summer Break Helping

Brittney Valdez (l) and Sarah Ayala came to the #LockportFire
shelter at North park Junior High School looking to volunteer
Most college students are spending these last few days of summer break getting ready to return to school. Cornell University sophomore-to-be Brittney Valdez decided she wanted to spend her Thursday a little differently.

"If someone is in a crisis and I can offer comfort, that would be really awesome," said Valdez, a Lockport resident. Valdez and her friend Sarah Ayala came to the Red Cross shelter at North Park Junior High School, looking for ways to help those affected when a large tire fire forced eight surrounding blocks to evacuate.

"This is a small community," Valdez said. "It's devastating."

"I'm travelling from Texas," said Ayala, who met Valdez about six years ago when she also lived in the Lone Star State. "Maybe I was meant to help out. I can't explain it."

Sarah Ayala (l) and Brittney Valdez help Red Cross volunteers
inventory comfort kits at North Park Junior High School shelter
for #LockportFire evacuees
Ayala and Valdez started by helping volunteers inventory the comfort kits at the shelter. Those comfort kits were surrounded by other examples of the Lockport and Western New York community coming together to help their neighbors in need: Cases of water donated by Wegmans, Wal-Mart, Tops and Lockport residents.

"I think it's a test of character, the type of person who would volunteer," Ayala says. "No matter how bad my day has been, I still have a chance to help other people."

Red Cross volunteers will continue to support displaced residents and the firefighters and other first responders Friday, providing water, food and comfort. To learn more about how you can help people after fires and other disasters, please visit