Comic sees big things at work in the small stuff

Ed Norton | HFPA | Katie Couric | America Ferrera | David Spade | Quincy Jones | Sam Waterston | Kristin Chenoweth | Scarlett Johansson | Ethan Hawke | Bill Maher | Jay Leno | Ryan Reynolds

On a Sunday night in early May, torrential rains caused massive flooding in Tennessee and Kentucky, resulting in 31 deaths and nearly 1,000 residents forced out of their homes. By Monday morning, the American Red Cross had opened 28 much-needed shelters.

Comedian David Spade wanted to help. “I grew up knowing that the Red Cross was a name you could trust,” he explains. “They give you the basics — food, water, shelter.”

Since it was founded in 1881, the American Red Cross, with its 35,000 employees and half a million volunteers, has given humanitarian aid to victims of both war and natural disasters.

Through sold-out shows at the Improv Comedy Club and a personal donation, Spade was able to contribute $50,000 to the org’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“We sometimes forget about America,” he says. “Sometimes, you want to stop and say, ‘What if something else goes wrong in this country?’ We’ve got to kind of pace ourselves, because a lot of people might be tapped dry by the time the next thing happens.

“Whenever something shows up on my radar, I try to get in there,” Spade continues. “Even those tiny things like answering the phones at a CNN fundraiser. You hear these people busting their humps to give $15. It breaks your heart. They don’t have it, but they’re trying to help someone else.”

Janene Scott is one of those people in need of help.

At the time of the flood, this mother of four lived in Antioch, a suburb of Nashville. “We were completely flooded out,” recalls Scott. “When my husband opened the front door, water came flooding in. My husband is 6’4″ and by the time he brought the last child out of the house, the water was up to his chin.”

The Scotts were the first family at the Red Cross Shelter about 20 miles away. “They had cots set up, linens and toiletries,” she says. “They gave each child a little Mickey Mouse. That was really big. A lot of people forget, but that’s one of the basic necessities if you’re a child.”

For more information, visit redcross.org.

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