‘Blessed like this’: Boxes arrive from far-off donors

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wednesday was delivery day again at Augustine Buie’s home onWashington Street.

Delivery trucks lined up down the street Wednesday morning todrop off an estimated 150 boxes of clothes, toys, toiletries andother items arriving from New Jersey.

“We got a big girls’ box,” Juanita Dilbert said Wednesdayafternoon as she opened a container of plus-size women’sclothes.

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Dilbert and her fiance, Earl McCray, and church friend BeverlyGreen, all evacuees from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina,and Buie have been spending their time sorting the donated items.In addition to Wednesday’s delivery, two previous loads totaledanother 200 boxes of goods.

“There’s still another 150 boxes on the way,” Dilbert said.

Dilbert said Tim Paris, a former co-worker who is now arestaurant owner, organized the collection effort among customersand neighbors in the New Jersey township of Wall. Dilbert isplanning to go to New Jersey on Friday to participate in afund-raiser there.

McCray said earlier deliveries have been sorted and taken toshelters and other local organizations to help people in need. Hesaid the same is planned for the latest delivery.

Buie said people may call her at (601) 833-6456 or come by 326Washington St. during the day or early evening. Clothing is beingsorted into groups of boys, girls, women’s and men’s.

“Those that have called us, we’re separating out according tosizes,” Buie said.

McCray said there are about 25 boxes of children’s shoes,ranging in size from 1 to 6. A variety of other items, some new andsome used, also have been sent.

“We’ve got a bunch of toys popping out of the box,” he said.

Dilbert, McCray and other family members and friends fled to”Mama ‘Stine’s” house when Katrina approached New Orleans. Buiesaid about 11 people stayed with her initially, but that number wasdown to seven now.

“She’s well-known in the community, and God bless her she tookus in,” McCray said.

There were some family ties involved in the assistance.Dilbert’s daughter Yolanda is married Buie’s son Luther. Their sonMason Turner is attending Mamie Martin Elementary School.

“They were married three weeks before the hurricane hit them,”Buie said.

In New Orleans, McCray worked for the city’s public library. Hesaid the main building sustained some flooding and structuraldamages, while the library’s 12 branches had more extensivedamage.

McCray said the family plans on returning to New Orleans. Hesaid they will have to rebuild there.

“Everything we had is totaled in the community,” McCraysaid.

After taking another blow from Hurricane Rita, McCray said theirarea of the city was still draining. Some areas of the city areslowly reopening.

“Probably by Monday of next week, we can go back in,” McCraysaid.

For now, McCray and Dilbert are thankful to have a place to stayand are continuing to try to find ways to help those lessfortunate.

As Dilbert, Buie and Green continued to sort clothes, boxesoverflowed from under Buie’s porch and were lined up almost to thestreet. While the boxes may be overflowing, Dilbert said the taskwas not overwhelming.

“You can’t be overwhelmed when you’re blessed like this,”Dilbert said. “You got to keep going.”