Last Tuesday, Vermont's phavorite jam band, Phish, announced that they would play a special benefit concert for victims of Tropical Storm Irene. Unsurprisingly, the quartet's announcement created tremors of excitement around Vermont and across the whole of Phish phandom. No sooner had word gotten out about the phoursome's show then dedicated Phish phollowers the country over grabbed some hula hoops, a couple djembe drums, a few pallets of Cheetos and their best water bongs, hopped in their vanagons and hightailed it to Vermont.
They came phrom all over — New Jersey, Connecticut, New Jersey, Colorado, New Jersey — in the hope of nabbing one of the hottest tickets in town. The devoted called in sick to work so they could camp out on the sidewalk, despite the fact that the FlynnCenter box office asked them not to queue until Saturday when the tickets went on sale. When the box office opened at 10 a.m., the weary waiters rubbed the weed smoke phrom their eyes, threw off their drug rugs and stepped up to take their place in history — the show, after all, will be Phish's phirst in its home state since 2004's epic concert in Coventry, a big, sloppy mess if ever there was one.
By late Saturday, the show's 10,000 tickets were sold out. All the die-hards walked away from the box office with a $75 ticket in hand (all the proceeds go to the band's Waterwheel Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation, which will dole out the money to appropriate phlood relief efforts). But here's what I want to know — what are all the out-of-state phans doing until Wednesday's show at the Champlain Valley Exposition, besides making daisy chains, crafting hemp dog leashes, swapping bootlegs and hosting sing-alongs in City Hall Park? Here's what they should be doing — volunteering.
I submit that if you're coming to Vermont just phor the show, you need to phind yourself some gloves and a mask and pitch in. More than 700 residences were destroyed or significantly damaged when Irene rolled through. Sorry to harsh your mellow, but hundreds of people are homeless and without work and could really use a helping hand.
Phans might say that they're already helping out by purchasing a ticket and dropping some cash on limited edition merch. I dig that, Moonbeam Sunflower. But before the money starts rolling in, there's work that needs doing. And if you could phigure out a way to get your patchworked, Birkenstocked self all the way here, you can sure as hell phigure out a way to provide some assistance.
Not sure what you can do? Phair enough. Here are some ideas:
— You could phill your camper van with personal hygiene products, phirst aid items, cleaning and school supplies and food and take it to South Royalton. For a full list of this community's needs, click here.
— How about taking down some walls and pulling up some flooring for the Kadrik family in Waterbury?
— Perhaps you could help muck out the Hancock Town Hall basement.
— Maybe you could help phix the phence at Turner Farm on Route 100 in the Mad River Valley.
There are many more projects that you could help with. Your best bet to phind volunteer opportunities is VTResponse. If you are willing and able, they will gladly set you up with something to do. Not able to swing a hammer, carry a bucket or throw things in a dumpster? Consider writing a check the American Red Cross of Vermont and the New Hampshire Valley, the United Way of Chittenden County, the Vermont Foodbank or any number of towns accepting financial donations. Remember to earmark your contribution for flood relief.
Vermont has been good to you, no? We gave you Phish and Ben & Jerry's and phlannel and weed. That's right — we invented phlannel. And weed. We might have even invented patchouli, white-people dreadlocks and barefoot dancing. So consider giving back. Then when you go back to New Jersey, you can tell all your phriends how you helped save Vermont. So heady, brah.