Last Monday morning, I went to see the Today Show live, or at least a portion of it. It was not my first time to see the program in person, but it was my first time at that location.

Somewhere around 15 years ago, I was in New York City, so we decided to go be in the plaza crowd of the Today Show. The show begins at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time, but we were told to arrive around 5:00. We rose before the sun. Old-timers used to say that they went to bed with the chickens and got up with the roosters. I don’t think there are any roosters in Manhattan, or least I didn’t hear any.

We arrived early, went through security, got a pass and waited. Since we had not eaten breakfast, one member of our group walked across the street to get bagels and coffee for us. I learned if you ask for cream cheese on your bagel there, they are not frugal with it. There was so much cream cheese on that bagel that I think eating it clogged at least one of my arteries. We were near the front of the line, so when they let us enter the plaza area, we found a great spot right at the railing. I saw the cast, including Al Roker. Actor Colin Firth was a guest on the show that day. He came over where I stood and signed autographs. I had no idea, at that time, who he was or what movies he had been in, but I got his autograph anyway...for my teenage daughter, of course. The only thing I had for him to sign was my plastic hotel key-card. I offered to pay the hotel for the room-key, but they graciously gave it to me. I thought Ashley would be thrilled, but when I gave it to her, she asked, “Who is Colin Firth?”

Last Monday, I was in the crowd again to see a live segment of the Today Show.

Once again I got up, before I woke up, to get there. I still didn’t hear a rooster crow, but this time there could have been possibly one nearby. There were no bagels and cream cheese this time, but there was barbecue...for breakfast. Colin Firth was not there, so I got no autographs, but Al Roker was there and I did get my picture with him. Standing by him made me feel tall.

No, I wasn’t in New York again. This time, Mr. Roker and the Today Show cameras came to Alabama. He came to Beauregard, to Providence Baptist Church, because of the tornadoes two weeks earlier.

For almost twenty years, Roker and the Today Show cameras have visited areas needing help due to disasters. The segment of the show is called, “Lend a Hand.” Mr. Roker says, “We’re pitching in to help those who need it most.” With around 200 homes destroyed by the tornadoes here, and at least another 300 damaged, there is certainly a number of families in need of a hand. Mr. Roker contacted Belfor National Disaster Team, who presented two travel homes to two families whose homes were totally destroyed. Rodney Scott Barbecue, from Birmingham, also set up in the parking lot and provided lunch (or breakfast for some of us) for storm victims and volunteers. Walmart brought a truck load of totes filled with all kinds of goodies for the families affected by the storms. Thank you, Mr. Roker and everyone else for coming and for all your help. We also appreciate the attention you brought, which will in turn motivate others to come “lend a hand.” Slowly, the lives of the hurting will be rebuilt, as well as their houses.

We continue to pray for all.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Thursdays edition. Visit for more information.

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