My heart is broken over the plight of the people of the Gulf Coast, specifically in New Orleans. And I know I am not alone.
As a nation, we have been asked to give, which we have done and will continue to do. We have also been asked to pray, which we have done and will continue to do.
But I want to do more - now. My heart is to reach out to the people now, to help meet immediate needs now. And I know I am not alone.
It appears to be difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to access New Orleans. But evacuees continue to arrive in outlying cities. So it came to me that maybe we could help those who are actively involved in meeting evacuees' needs hands-on - now.
I searched online and found Web sites for newspapers located in cities housing evacuees. Community efforts are encouraging and heartwarming.
What is more, the Houston Chronicle not only covers these endeavors, but also provides Web sites so that we can directly connect and donate to some of the numerous efforts taking place in their city. The newspaper's site is simply www.houstonchronicle.com. The front page hosts links to various caregiving categories, i.e. food, shelter, and so on, that allows us to directly assist entities in Houston that are actively supporting displaced Gulf Coast residents even now.
I am writing not only to share information with others in Southeast who want to do more to help out now, but also in the hopes that others in our community who might have additional information wherein we can directly assist those who have been struck so tragically in this catastrophe might also write in and inform local residents.
Finally, by no means do I mean to undermine the efforts of national or international assistance organizations, nor do I intend to take away from anyone giving to these groups. We, as well as many of our friends, have donated, and likely will continue to donate, to these associations. But I have received numerous phone calls and e-mails that let me know that I am not alone in holding a willingness and desire to do even more--now.
Avenues for helping
While I appreciate the mayor's efforts to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina, I don't think it is necessary for the citizens of Juneau to brainstorm fundraising activities. There are plenty of relief organizations already in place providing assistance: Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, etc. What they need is cash now. If the elected officials want to help, I suggest they encourage the citizens of Juneau to give generously to these organizations. If the city really wants to encourage donations, they could offer to reduce a person's property tax by each dollar contributed to one of these established organizations. All a citizen would have to do is send in proof of donation to receive the rebate.