Help Those Affected by the Hurricanes

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Hurricane Katrina is probably the worst natural disaster that has hit the United States. Rita, though not as horrible, added to the devastation. We're still in the rebuilding stages. Many of our world-wide neighbors are lending their support. Many of our own citizens have stopped what they're doing to help those who have been displaced from their homes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. What can we do to help?

Help the rebuilding process.
People who are there have been saying that they can use a lot more help. They need people who are not looking to be paid for work, but who are willing to volunteer to work, to bring their drills, to bring blankets, to help build shelters, homes, etc.

  • Get a group together to go to the affected regions and help them rebuild.
    • Maybe a club could sponsor a 3- or 4-day field trip so you don’t miss very much school.
    • Many church groups go to Mexico over spring break. Why not have your church group go to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Texas for a short trip over Columbus weekend, a week at Thanksgiving, or two weeks at Christmas!
  • Send money to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other charitable organizations set up through churches or secular organizations. They have funds set up for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • See what goods are still needed for people and do a drive; then bus them or ship them down and give them out.
  • See if your family can offer temporary or permanent homes, shelter, jobs.
  • Check out to find out what needs you can help meet.

Be a good neighbor and a friend.
There have been a lot of people relocated to different parts of the country who need our support just as much as they need homes, shelter, food, and jobs.

  • Provide emotional support.
  • Bring these people into your groups.
  • Invite them over for dinner.
  • Take them to the movies.
  • Go through your closet and see what clothes, school supplies, or other things you can give them.
  • Buy a store gift card for a family or new friend in need.
  • Offer them ways to earn money. Find people in your community who could use help raking leaves, mowing lawns, painting a room, babysitting.
  • Most of all, listen and love them. If you have not lost everything, it’s hard to imagine the magnitude of their loss.
  • Give them reasons to be happy. Be grateful for them and help them express gratitude.
  • Tell people you love them, enjoy being with them, appreciate and respect them. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Express Gratitude
If you happen to be a victim of Katrina or Rita (and even if you're not), the best thing that you can do for yourself is to be grateful -- to be grateful that you are alive, to be grateful for God's love, to be grateful for all the good that people are showing. You may have lost your loved ones, your home, your pets, your belongings. But look for the good. Be thankful that you had what time you had with your loved ones. Be grateful that you can build again. The Lt. Gov. of Mississippi was inspired by the people in her state who continued to say, "We're blessed." Look for the blessing. It's there, even if it doesn't always feel like it. A spirit of gratitude enables us to see possibilities, to appreciate the beauty around us.

You may want to look at the previous Make a Difference, Support tsunami relief and pray. (Note that while many ideas apply to Katrina and Rita, some are tsunami specific.)