Open Doors

What does it mean to “lend a helping hand?” What does the Bible’s commandment indicate when it states that man and women should “love thy neighbor?” Displayed throughout campus and the city of Scranton is the very act of kindness and helping our neighbors.

Less than two weeks ago Hurricane Sandy left thousands of individuals without electricity, homes, and inability to go to work or school. It took away some lives and filled empty hearts with grief and sorrow. However, they are not alone.

During the past week and a half, surrounding communities, organizations, such as the Red Cross, states and students have lent a helping hand by rebuilding homes and helping others regain hope. Due to the loss of electricity, food has been donated along with clothes, batteries, flashlights and more.

Shortages of gasoline has been a major concern for the hundreds of people in New Jersey. Scranton, which was thankfully not hit by Sandy, does have gas and other resources, and as an area and school that encourages to give to those in need, it also encouraged NJ residents to fill up here.

Sunday marked the second Open House for high school juniors and seniors at The University of Scranton. Although it came at a difficult time, we encouraged students from NJ (from where many students who attend here are from) to come, receive a tour, refill their cars, restock on food and to enjoy a little time away from the devastation.

Under such circumstances, many families decided to drive to Scranton and attend the open house. While they were here they refilled their cars, ate a nice meal in the dining hall and took a few hours to remember that they will get through it. As a Jesuit university, we are all here to show our support.

While working there on Sunday, I spoke to a father and his eight-year-old son. The man began asking me questions about the Scranton area. Once I learned that they were from South Jersey I asked how they were doing since the hurricane. The father confirmed that their beach house was ruined, but  that his home was fine (with that he said, “Thank God’).

He then looked down at his son and back at me and stated, “Our neighborhood has been making bonfires to stay warm and everyone sits around it. My son said to me, ‘at least the neighbors get to know each other now.’ That’s coming from an eight-year-old.”

This is what loving thy neighbor means. It is coming together in times of despair and helping each other get through difficult times. Families driving to Scranton and filling up their cars was a way that we were able to help them.

This weekend Lackawanna county is collecting items for the relief, and are planning a trip to go to NJ to help families. Students are going to participate in this this Friday. There is also a Mass prepared on campus.

Brilliant philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Let us remember those in need; let us open up our doors and reach out to those who need it most.

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