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Additional help always needed at area shelters

My youngest daughter, upon returning from Tennessee in the wakeof Katrina, with a big smile on her face and a big hug in her arms,asked me Sunday evening how my week had been. Ever the optimist sheis, I paused for a moment, reflecting on the past few days andreplied, “Well dear, it has been interesting.”

It has been an interesting two weeks. Interesting, in thathopefully never again in our lives will we have to endure thehardships and uncertainty of such a catastrophic calamity.Interesting, in that one realizes just how insignificant somethings are that in the past seemed so important. Interesting, inthat the frowns of uncertainty in the initial days following thehurricane seen on countless faces now are turning into smiles ofrelief and hope.

Interesting, in that while we have all heard news reports of theworst of human nature, locally it is the best of human nature thathas blossomed following Katrina’s wake. But what else would oneexpect from a community that calls itself the “HomeseekersParadise”?

Countless volunteers from across the county have descended onRed Cross shelters located at six churches here in Brookhaven andLincoln County. For a fortnight, an estimated 2,100 meals per dayhave been prepared for the 700-plus evacuees who have madeBrookhaven their temporary home. You do the math, and it is nothard to understand the Herculean efforts these church members andvolunteers are undertaking. Church congregations from across thecounty are also joining in the effort, sharing cooking duties.

At the same time, countless volunteers have descended on theroads and community centers across the county, offering a helpinghand to clear roads and yards, hand out water and ice as well asother necessities. Tales of random acts of kindness are everywhereas old friendships have been renewed and new friendshipsestablished.

People just helping people has been the focus of the past twoweeks.

Unfortunately, unlike past disaster relief efforts where shelterneeds usually ended after a few days, Katrina’s relief efforts arelikely to go on for several more weeks, if not longer.

More help is needed and in many different forms. From what I amtold, relief volunteers would be very helpful. Not only in mealpreparation but also in just helping with odd jobs. Just coming tothe shelters and visiting with evacuees would be a tremendoushelp.

“Some of these folks just want to talk and just need someone tolisten,” one volunteer told me.

Helping to secure permanent housing is also a top priority, andany help in that would be appreciated.

For those who do not have the personal time, monetary donationsare even more important. While the American Red Cross is takingmonetary donations, the individual churches are also takingdonations, which will be applied to the relief effort.

As one volunteer put it, “we are in good shape, but additionalhelp is always welcome.”

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.