Lucky Tran/The Illuminator collective
I remember hearing a story, perhaps apocryphal, in the days after 9/11 about a woman in Manhattan receiving a call from a total stranger. The stranger explained she had just picked up her phone and dialed her own number, subbing a 212 area code in for her own -- like calling some parallel world, New York version of herself. She just wanted to connect to someone there, she explained, and she just wanted to let this New York counterpart know that she was thinking of them.
In the wake of the bombings in Boston, that story has loosely played out again, this time over the currents of email, not telephone lines.
By now you've seen the Google Doc of people offering their homes to those stranded in the city the night of the bombings. Contained in that spreadsheet was yes, the outpouring of generosity, but also there was the contact information -- email addresses, phone numbers -- of a hodgepodge group of residents of Boston and the surrounding towns. For anyone anywhere, wanting to reach out to Boston and send their support, this list was gold.
And that was exactly the thought that Hallie Velez of Lawrence, Kansas, had. "My name is Hallie," she wrote to about 10 people on the list (selected mostly randomly, she told me via email). "I live in Kansas. I've never been to Boston and I don't need a place to stay but I found your names on the 'I have a place to offer' spreadsheet and I wanted to say thank you."