Here’s an email sent to my mom by a woman who attends her church. My home town of Orange, Texas is the first exit on Interstate 10 headed west from Lousiana. Nearly all Katrina refugees headed to Texas have passed through there.
I received this, called the chamber and the next group of buses, about 800 people, will arrive around noon today. They have drinks but need food for these people. I will be buying what I can and making peanut butter sandwiches. I figured my money could feed more people on PB. Please read the email below.
I heard assistance was needed at the Texas Welcome Center (TX/LA Border), so I signed up to work the 11 PM to 1 AM shift and recruited my friend Shawn to join me. When we arrived we found out that they had just finished “greeting” 12 bus loads of people that had been evacuated from New Orleans.
We were immediately put to work filling care package bags to be passed out to the next buses that were to follow. All of the items distributed were donations (and mostly from individuals who had found out about the need). Each bag had about 3 snack items (chips, granola, bars, raisins, etc) and one juice bag. We also had fresh fruit and cold drinks to distribute. Donations of diapers, formula, hygiene items and clothing had also been donated and were distributed as needed.
Not long after we finished filling the bags, the buses began to arrive… These people had come straight from New Orleans. Many of them had no shoes and some people had resorted to wearing trash bags as clothing. They gladly accepted any article of clothing they could pull over their bodies. Most of them were shivering and many said their clothes were still wet. The little children look dazed and confused, but still managed to say, “Thank you” when we handed them our little bags of treats. I got in the habit of saying, “Welcome to Texas! We’re glad you made it.” The common response was, “So are we.”
Many were eager to talk about the traumatic events they had been through, but they were given only a short amount of time to take a bathroom break, and receive their care package before they were loaded back on the bus and continued on their journey. Most of them did not know where they were headed and those who thought they were headed to Houston had not yet been told that they were being diverted to Dallas because Houston is now full.
Shawn and I left at 4:00 AM only because we had run out of food. I think we served about 30 bus loads of people (but I honestly lost count). The last bus of people we received were given one zip-lock back of saltine crackers with peanut butter spread on them. It was heart breaking, but at the same time remarkable. One man smiled and said, “This is great… thank so much.” We still had water and drinks to give but not much of anything else left to provide the many buses that were following close behind.
There were about 2 dozen volunteers working while I was there and I understand several others had received many, many buses throughout the afternoon. This effort will continue for the next several days. If you are one of the many people who are looking for a way to help, I recommend that bring ANY TYPE OF DONATION THAT CAN BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE PEOPLE to the Texas Welcome center. They are freezing cold and desperately need shoes, socks, underwear, diapers, depends, sanitary pads, baby wipes, t-shirts, blankets, (beach towels would be great) etc. And if you have an hour (or 4 or 6) to volunteer, I promise you will come away with the gratitude of knowing you have truly helped people in GREAT need.
Food donations are desperately needed. If you have the resources, make a run by the dollar store or Wal-Mart and buy any type individually wrapped snack food. I am sure a cash donation would also be gladly accepted.
For those who have already received several emails from me, I apologize… and promise that this is the last time I will ask you to PLEASE DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO HELP WITH THIS NEED!
Good night (or good morning) and God Bless!