Polishing up the bandwagon, yo.

Okay, I have enough ducks in a row to be able to post something and open up the coffers.

Ever since this whole Katrina business started, I've tried to find a way that I can assist those in need. I knew that whatever I was called to do, it would probably involve children. Most all of my life, I've been a child advocate in one fashion or another. The best and most accurate term I have to sum up kids with is 'neato'; kids are neato, no two ways about it.

Children and their well-being, in a nutshell, are my passion.

As far as my role in helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, I wanted it to be very much hands-on. Red Cross does a beautiful job; I have even been on the receiving end of their aid in the past. I know lots of people have already given funds to them to help meet immediate needs of those people who were devastated. Food, shelter and clothing are what we view as most pressing in times like these.

To be quite frank, I'm extremely worried about the psychological impact this will have on so many families, and most especially their children. I am hearing stories over and over of people arriving at gas stations, shelters, retail stores, bearing up children who are wearing pajamas and slippers and nothing more. There is a system put into place to clothe and feed these kids and families, and it's been getting done quite effectively and well in these parts. So that's taken care of, amen and pass the peaches. School enrollments, as well, are going quickly and smoothly.

Right now there are refugees in Birmingham, just south of me by an hour or so. They are being housed at shelters, churches and the Convention Center. I initially moved to help them, but all calls were met with a statement along the lines of, "Got it covered at this time." Even sideline needs, like things for children, are being addressed well and thoroughly there thus far.

Via some of my local calling, I got word of people in Gadsden, just twenty minutes to the southeast of me. Turns out that there are actually more people in Gadsden at THEIR convention center then there are at the Birmingham location. At this writing, there are a little over six-hundred refugees, one-hundred fifty of which are children. I spoke to Lisa Rosser, Gadsden's City Finance Director, a little over an hour ago. She was formal (but congenial) at first, and as I was giving her my background in Children's Advocacy, she softened up a little bit and became more anecdotal. "It is," she said to me, "so very overwhelming and unbelievable."

When I sailed my idea past her, she pronounced it "GREAT!" because "...basic needs are being met." I'm hoping you will all feel the same.

What I want to address is a purely psychological need, a comfort need. I want to put some toys in the hands of kids that don't have anything to their names. I know, as a parent, if I have five bucks in my pocket, I will spend it on my children ninety-five point nine percent of the time before I spend it on myself. Just about every parent does that. It hurts when our children have to do without. It's distressing.

There are one-hundred fifty children down the road from me with NOTHING. There are likely, by all accounts, more coming up from down south. I plan on going to the local KBtoys and purchasing a veritable assload of twenty-dollar gift cards. I want to supply each child sitting in that convention hall a gift card. Then I want to load them and their parents up and take them shopping so that they can purchase whatever their heart desires for them to clench in their chubby little fists. I've already collected six-hundred dollars locally with just a few phone calls. I've lined up transportation so that I can take six to eight families at one time to shop.

The benefit of all this is threefold: Some of the Katrina Kids will have something to hang onto physically and anchor them, their parents will not be hard-pressed to spend funds that could go elsewhere, and maybe their children will be occupied/distracted enough with their toy(s) to give mom and/or dad a wee bit of a break.

Let's call this Katrina Kids Relief. If there is anyone who reads this and wants to pull a logo button out from their magical digital hats, I'd sure appreciate it, as I am a technotard of the highest order. If things get big enough (and they CAN, if you link and write and spread the word!), I'll maybe set up a seperate site and think of branching off into other areas of Katrina Kids' needs.

Please make your interest known in comments or e-mail. The addy is hotlinked to my name below this post. Bless all of you, and thank you in advance for your prayers, your links and your monetary donations.

VERY IMPORTANT SOMETHING THAT I NEGLECTED TO INCLUDE: If you so desire, I will be providing receipts for tax purposes. All non-local monies, though PayPalled into my account, are being funneled through my church. If you would prefer instead to make a check directly out to my church (or does PayPal allow non-registered parties to recieve funds? I don't remember), please don't hesitate to let me know. No harm, no foul, and no offense taken. Peace.

UPDATE, 11-ish CST: Holy, holy mother of Pete! Day one and donations are just about eleven hundred dollars. Can I just say WOO! one good time?

I'm working on getting a blog site up for this project, and my pastor and I will get together tomorrow to set up a PayPal account with the church's name on it. For those of you that either know me or are comfortable doing so, I'll go ahead and take PayPal donations through my account until the other account is up and running (see button at the close of this update). PLEASE NOTE: If you want a separate receipt from the church (lovely and nondenominational, in case you wondered), PLEASE NOTE THAT WITH YOUR DONATION PAYMENT.

Thanks to my regular readers for support on this project. It is growing quickly, and we may soon be able to do the same thing in nearby communities. One more WOO! for the road.

Katrina Kids Relief

Remember, if you'd rather mail a check or money order, you may do so. Just drop me a comment or an email.


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