Archive for Thursday, September 8, 2005

LHS groups gathering Katrina aid

September 8, 2005

Four Lansing High School groups are mobilizing efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Tracy Andrews, a math teacher at LHS, said she asked teachers at a meeting Friday if they would donate clothes that she could send to her sister, Mardy Williams, who lives in Natchitoches, La.

Williams was not directly affected by the hurricane, but her town was. She estimated that as of Monday about 5,000 evacuees filled shelters in Natchitoches, a town of 20,000, about 220 miles north of New Orleans. Williams said she and her two children had been spending time at the shelters.

"All of the townspeople pitch in," she said.

One way Williams and others in her community have helped is by doing evacuees' laundry. Williams said her church and others had formed teams to cook for the people in shelters. At her church, Williams said, the congregation had formed 14 teams; each team cooks dinner for 200 to 300 people one night every two weeks. She said people were bussed to the church to give them a change of scenery from the shelter.

Williams said many people in her town were stepping up to accommodate the evacuees. Churches are starting day cares so parents can look for jobs, she said. Individuals also are contributing - some had brought big-screen TVs to shelters so the people could watch movies or the news, she said. Williams said one woman who saw a young teenage boy sobbing found out he would be starting school and didn't have any clothes or supplies. The woman took the boy school shopping and even bought him new shoes, Williams said.

"These type of things bring out the best in everybody," she said.

However, Williams expressed concern that the residents of Natchitoches would get burned out in the weeks or months that the evacuees will be stranded there.

"You can go and go and go, but you have to take breaks," she said.

That's where Andrews and students at LHS hope to help pick up the slack. National Honor Society, Leadership, Kayettes and Future Business Leaders of America are all starting collections for Andrews to send to Williams, who will distribute the goods at her local shelters.

Andrews asked for clothing donations, including new underwear and socks. Kayettes are collecting toiletries - besides shampoo, soap and toothpaste, Williams said needed items include tampons and maxi pads, diapers, Depends, Band-Aids, toilet paper and over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, and Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, TUMS and Preparation H.

Leadership has set a goal to raise $5,000 at the schools and in the community by Sept. 30. The group will have cans to collect change in each classroom at the high school. The organization also hopes to collect money from visitors to area businesses and then to get merchants to match their customers' donations. Community members who wish to donate to the effort can write checks to LHS with "hurricane relief" written in the memo area.

Leadership sponsor Sarah Wise said Wednesday that the group would probably either use the money to buy more supplies or donate it to the American Red Cross.

NHS will organize donations and prepare them to be sent to Natchitoches. FBLA will assist Leadership in raising money and try to secure low-cost shipping of the donations.

Members of groups collecting donations encouraged contributions from the community, which can be dropped off at the high school, 220 Lion Lane.

Other local groups are also participating in hurricane relief efforts:

¢ Lansing Parent-Teacher Association will conduct a school supplies drive at Lansing Elementary, Intermediate and Middle schools for students displaced by the hurricane. PTA is working in conjunction with Heart to Heart International, an Olathe-based organization, to collect blunt scissors, 12-inch rulers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, glue sticks, colored pencils, notebook paper, composition books, folders, zippered pencil bags and small stuffed animals, said PTA president Robin Goebel. The items will be collected until Sept. 15 at the school offices.

¢ Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church, 900 Ida St., will have collection baskets at the church for monetary donations. Money will be collected for several weeks and will go to Catholic Relief Services.

¢ Lansing United Methodist Church will collect money for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The Rev. Jim Hopwood said the Kansas East Conference of the UMC placed a call for volunteers to go help in affected areas, but he said general volunteers would not be sent until the areas affected are more secure.

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