Christmas For Katrina
I received an email from my friend, Alex's mom, who many of our regular readers know volunteered recently in Louisana/Mississippi, that is very touching and a plea to help those suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Please take a moment to read it.
I think most of you know that I spent 2 weeks last month as a Hurricane Katrina relief volunteer - and it was the best thing I've ever done in my life. I spent my first week at Hilltop Rescue and Relief in Slidell, Louisiana, and it was the most amazing experience. I've never worked so hard (at physical labor) but I cannot begin to explain the rewards and blessings of being able to give someone who had lost everything back some hope because people (who they'd never met, from all over the country) cared about them and were willing to roll up their sleeves and help them when they were so overwhelmed that they didn't know where to start. I wish you could all witness the difference it makes in someones life when the only question they're asked is: What do you need? How can we help you? (and not, how much money do you have, do you have insurance, can you pay for this...)
The email below is from Mr. Machen - he and his wife own a house with 6 acres property and have most generously allowed Hilltop to set up their rescue camp and command center on the property. The hospilatility they've extended (and are continuing to extend for the foreseeable future) to me and all of the other volunteers is amazing.
Please take a few minutes and read the emails below. I know, especially at this time of year, there are so many worthy causes who need your support, but I can personally attest to the good work Hilltop is doing - even if you can't afford to help, or choose to give elsewhere, you can help tremendously by keeping Hilltop in your prayers and by passing this email along to everyone you know.
By the way, if I don't have a job in January (maybe you can keep that in your prayers too) , I'm still planning to go back, and would love to take all of you with me. I promise it will change your life (for the better, of course).
Much love at this holiday season,
From: "Robert Machen [Hilltop Rescue]"
Sent: Dec 2, 2005 4:13 PM
To: [Alex's Mom]
Subject: Christmas for Katrina
Dear [Alex's Mom],
Christmas for Katrina
Hurricane Katrina has created a humanitarian crisis unseen in America since the great depression. The children of the affected region have especially suffered great loss. In fact, Hilltop Rescue volunteers have had to remove thousands of damaged and mold- stained items from homes including toys, baseball cards, sports items, dolls, video games, clothes, trophies, books, crafts and much more. These personal, treasured items are gone forever.
At Hilltop Rescue and Relief, we realize that this will be a particularly difficult time of the year and the personal loss will be most evident. It's a perfect time for us to put a few toys back into these children's empty bedrooms. This will greatly assist in restoring hope in these families' lives.
We need your help! Over the next several weeks, we'll be collecting 'wish lists' from the children of Slidell, LA. Santa's helpers will then shop, wrap and deliver these gifts to the children. Our desire is that we can spend approximately $50 per child to make this a very special Christmas. We employ you to join with us with this special project. You can donate in one of the following ways:
(1) You and your family can donate one or more Toys-R-Us, Wal-Mart, or Target gift cards in denominations of $25. These cards should to be received by December 15th to expedite our shopping.
Please send cards to the Hilltop Field Office at:
Hilltop Rescue'Field Operations Center
Slidell, LA 70460
(2) Click on this link: http://hilltoprescue.org/christmas.html
and donate $50 for one child or any denomination that you feel appropriate. Please reference 'Christmas Fund' in the 'Message' area of the form.
All of your tax-deductible donations to the Hilltop Christmas Fund will be used specifically for purchasing gifts, wrapping paper or other necessary costs related to this project.
Thank you so much for being a part of Hilltop and participating in the Christmas for Katrina project. We also ask that you take this opportunity to forward this message to all of your friends and family members, so they may also help the children of Southern Louisiana giving glory to God our Father, who has immeasurable compassion for these little ones. (Please read the attached message by Ray Baca-Hilltop Volunteer)
May God bless you and fill you completely this holiday season.
[MESSAGE FROM RAY BACA]
Happy Holidays. I hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season. This is the time of year to help those in need. I am going back to Slidell, La to help hand deliver toys to the kids that were greatly affected by Hurricane Katrina. We are organizing a toy drive for the kids in the hard hit area of Slidell. We need your help to make this Christmas special.
Why this is so important to me:
2005 will be a year I will never forget. A year that has changed my life and the way I view the world around me. There have been events in my life in the past that have moved me to tears and made me angry, 9/11 and the Tsunami in SE Asia come to mind. I sat back like most people and watched the horrible events play out on TV in the comfort of my own living room. I thought how could one individual from NC make a difference? I jumped on my soapbox and screamed as loud as I could to make people aware of the situation and asked them for help.
2005 is a year that got me off the couch and into action. Living in NC there is always a threat that this might be the year a big hurricane hits the area. When my wife and I moved here a few years ago, we actually threw a hurricane party when Charlie came through the area. We had our hurricane glasses and mixture we got from Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans and we broke out the camcorder, invited a few friends over and 'enjoyed' the weather. My outlook sure has changed after seeing the destruction Katrina did to the gulf coast.
After watching the television coverage of hurricane Katrina, once again I got on my soapbox and started screaming. I had been a volunteer with the Red Cross for about a year and was up to date on my certifications so I thought I was a shoe-in to help in the gulf area. After a week of waiting with no clear answer on when I would be deployed, I took it upon myself to make other arrangements. I searched online for anyone that was willing to take on a volunteer to help. After a very frustrating few days I noticed a group in Slidell, La that posted messages asking for help. On Labor Day, instead of packing a cooler and heading out to the beach, I packed my car with cans of tuna, work gloves, water and other items I thought was needed in the gulf coast area. I woke up at 3am, kissed my wife, and started a trip that would change my life.
Hilltop Rescue and Relief is based out of a home in Slidell, La. Louise and Richard Machen with the help of their sons, opened up their hearts and home to help the people that lost almost every thing they owned. They are some of the most amazing people. We set up a volunteer camp and at our height of operation had 70 volunteers scattered throughout the city cleaning homes, cutting down trees and being there for anyone that needed a hug and support. Currently we are closer to 15 a night, but we are still working hard to clean up and rebuild Slidell.
What is still left to do:
For those of you that have been to Slidell and have helped in our camp, thank you. You are the ones that have experienced the sights and smells of the devastating effect a hurricane can have on a community. There really isn't a way to describe the horrible conditions. In Slidell, many, many homes and businesses had water damage, some up to 12 feet. Almost everything inside these homes had to be thrown away furniture, clothes, pictures and toys. Imagine if everything you have worked so hard to buy and collect was destroyed in a matter of hours. Here is your chance to help again. If you are looking to help with this project, we have room for about 30 more volunteers, so please come back.
I believe if All of us do a little we can make a HUGE difference. We have seen the conditions these people are living in. This is America. These people are our neighbors, our relatives and friends.
This is what we are about, giving hope and a chance at a normal life again. The kids deserve better, it is up to us to help. Feel free to forward this email to your family or friends that would be excited to help.
* Hilltop Rescue is an orgazination designed to be Not for Profit. Your support is always greatly appreciated and utilized to serve those in need.