Below is a first-hand account of the day’s experience from Lisa Han of the VANS WARPED TOUR office.

Words cannot express the deep gratitude we all have for those that came out and helped the Hurricane Rita victims this past Thursday. It proved to be a successful day full of back breaking labor, deeply moved residents and empowered artists. The combined efforts of Unite the United, The Vans Warped Tour, The Volunteer Center of Southwest Louisiana, and Cameron Community Action/Council on Aging brought out nearly 400 people on the tour to dedicate their day off to those in need. Within that 400, included artists like NOFX, The Bouncing Souls, Rise Against, Anti-Flag, Aiden, Paramore and many, many more. These artists didn’t come to romanticize over their willingness to do a fair amount of community service, only to take pictures of them with shovels, and then to leave shortly thereafter.

They came and dedicated their blood, sweat and tears with the same passion that drives them on stage. They came for a cause bigger than they knew they were getting in to. They came to unite with those in need on the most raw and humanistic level that we instinctively know how to be in the face of tragedy. To see the humility and grace that resided over those that walk among giants, was enough to change anyone on the deepest note. One lady in her mid 70s said it perfectly when she pulled one of our crew guys aside and said, “I have been wrong about you all [punk world] my entire life. Thank you.” That was it. She smiled graciously with an intense amount of earnesty and quietly left the scene. She said more in her silence than many of us knew how to communicate with any taught verbiage. Her comment was one of thousands that I had heard spoken to those out on the volunteer day. Many of the locals could not stop saying how this tattooed and pierced lot of fierce looking men and women, were, “such nice boys and girls.”

Overall, the volunteers were able to collect approximately seven tons of debris, clean up 20 different sites, directly affect over 80 family members, and give downtown Cameron Parish a complete facelift. Beyond that, marks of achievement can also be noted in the lifelong friendships that some made with locals, overstepping societal implications of cultural boundaries, and the simple act of humans coming together as humans. Most of us spend years perfecting an image of ourselves, fighting that we are different from the rest, that we are unique. For that one day however, we all saw that we aren’t so different after all. That we are all human with the ability to understand the feelings of suffering, pain, helplessness, completion, happiness, and fulfillment in whatever context it may come. In the end, I think we all felt a sort of strange paradox of feeling
insignificant and helpless, yet a giant among giants. Regardless of the incessant itching from the merciless mosquitoes, I believe that most slept well that night, feeling their hearts softly churn with a new found tenderness.

If you would like to contribute to the ongoing reconstruction efforts in the US Gulf Coast Region or directly help other charitable causes, contact Laura Murphy at Unite The United to find out how. www.unitetheunited.com or unitetheunited@gmail.com.

For more information on the VANS WARPED TOUR®, go to www.warpedtour.com.

The Vans Warped Tour® is made possible through the support of Vans®, title sponsors Cingular Wireless and Samsung Mobile, Fuse, PlayStation®, Wrigley’s Winterfresh, Hot Topic, truth, Monster Energy and Hansen’s Sodas, Lost Beverage, Gold Bond, Wells Fargo, MySpace.com, Hurley, Smartpunk.com, Circuit City, Energizer® e2™, Major League Baseball, Ernie Ball, Trojan, Eastpak®, Sandisk, Music Edge, Alternative Press, SPIN Magazine, Guitar Center, Hasbro, Sirius Radio, and NAMM/the Music Edge.

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