JOPLIN, Missouri - Thousands of volunteers, many mobilized by AmeriCorps, are starting to make a dent into the cleanup of debris left behind following the EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin on may 22.
"Through the many hands of all the wonderful volunteers from all around, we take a very extremely heavy load and turn it light," said Jared Wicks, of AmeriCorps. "We have a big problem, but we have a lot of big hearts that are coming and showing up everyday."
One of those volunteers with a big heart is Toshiya "Toshi" Muto, from Japan.
Seeing what the people from the U.S. did with their wallets--and their actions--following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit his home country in March, Toshi decided that he would do his part to pay the U.S. back in the wake of the devastating tornado.
"I heard it was a horrible, horrible situation and thought maybe I should do what I can to help in Joplin," Toshi said, using a translator. "Both are very terrible disasters. There's much human tragedy. They both need lots of debris removal and have seriously impacted families' lives."
During his time here, he's worked in the hot sun every day alongside volunteers from New York, Florida, and several other states.
But no one as far away as Toshi's home.
"He's very hard-working, very inspirational," said Wicks of Toshi. "I think it's just the utter definition of compassion for your fellow man."
Toshi says he's also guided by a sense of respect and gratitude toward America.
"It's not just the sadness," Toshi explained. "You see the good side of people. I felt that in Japan and I feel that here. I really respect the people who are here volunteering and helping out."
Toshi rides his bike ten miles round-trip everyday from his hotel to the disaster zone to do what he can to help victims of the tornado and do his part to make this world we share a better place.
"Of course it has an impact on my life, but though my strength may be soft, slightly weak, if it has some impact, if someone needs me to exert myself, i'd like to do my best to help."
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