You’ve probably heard about the accident in a Kentucky Amish community last Thursday. Flash flooding in a normally passable creek caused a crossing buggy to overturn. Four children, ranging in age from 5 months to 11 years, were swept away and drowned.
The Amish community, in Graves County in western Kentucky, has suffered a difficult loss. One hopes the parents take some bittersweet comfort at the thought of where their children might now be.
And no doubt the burdens of the two families will be eased in coming days by their extended families and community.
One traditional way that Amish aid one another is by sending sympathy and support cards. You often see notes in Amish periodicals urging readers to send cards to individuals dealing with death or illness. Amish “shower” others–sometimes, essentially, strangers–with love in the form of letters, goods, and other donations.
Perhaps the greatest example occurred after the Nickel Mines school shootings. Sympathy cards appear on a few occasions in Amish Grace, the account of the 2006 tragedy and the forgiveness that followed.
As you’d expect, many of the cards sent after the killings came from Amish. Still more poured in from elsewhere: “The Bart Post Office received thousands of cards, letter, checks, and gifts from around the world. Some letters arrived with only a simple address: “Amish Families of Nickel Mines, USA”…One Amish family received about twenty-five hundred letters” (Amish Grace, p. 30).
On Friday Mary Brandenburg, who sometimes comments on this blog, wrote with a question after learning of the Kentucky Amish deaths. Mary wondered if I knew of a way of contacting the families.
I did not at the time, but one report I’ve just read mentions the Shamrock Restaurant in the nearby town of Dublin as an impromptu center receiving mail and donations.
The address for the Shamrock is given as 6237 State Route 339 S., Mayfield, Ky. 42066. Cards, checks, or other items can be sent to Emanuel Wagler (father of 3 of the children) in care of Cassie Hammonds at the restaurant.
The families are certain to receive an outpouring of support from both within and outside their community in the coming days, weeks, and months. One article this morning reports that 1,000 Amish are expected to come to Kentucky for the funeral today.
Cards won’t change what happened, but like visits, prayers, and other kindnesses, will hopefully ease the families’ pain at this difficult time.