Acts of Kindness: J.P. Larsen

LAS VEGAS - When an EF5 tornado destroyed the town of Moore, Okla., Home Depot employee J.P. Larsen watched the dramatic images unfold on his television. He knew, however, he couldn't just watch from afar.

"I just felt compelled to go there. It's as simple as that. If I'd really thought about it, maybe I wouldn't have gone, very impulsive, see what you can, see if you can help," he said. "I had come in the store and asked my manager Dawn, ‘I want to go. Let me go now.' She said, ‘I have to cover your shift, so you'll have to wait a week.'"

What happened during that week at the Home Depot near Pecos Road and Patrick Lane is remarkable.

"All the associates started bringing in clothes and supplies, diapers, water to load into my van," Larsen said. "From there, all the other Home Depots started pitching in in the valley."

With his van full of supplies, Larsen hit the road. He arrived in Oklahoma three days later to what he calls one solid traffic jam.

"Everyone running around with their heads cut off, a mess, mayhem," he said.

He felt disheartened. After dropping off the items at an Oklahoma area Home Depot, Larsen drove to the devastated site of Plaza Towers Elementary School.

"The children were pretty much around the school, and there was a counselors' tent. They were pretty traumatized. I sat with them. We were coloring," he said.

Larsen said he wanted to offer some normalcy to the children who were coping with the devastation surrounding them. The tornado killed 23 people. Seven of them were children.

"If you put the camera through the fence, there were the graves there and the one big cross was of the teacher and the little children. You couldn't help but feel really touched by that. I left a shirt there. I left a message from all the Las Vegas Home Depots," he said.

Larsen knew their pain. Two years ago, he lost his wife. It was the worst year of his life.

"That was probably part of the impetus for me giving back, because of all the people I knew and didn't know coming to my door with food," he said. "I was blown away by that. I'd never seen such an outpouring."

8 News NOW is rewarding Larsen's efforts, awarding him $800 as part of its weekly series Acts of Kindness.

If you want to nominate someone for Acts of Kindness, visit our website or e-mail us.


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