Helping Hands For Katrina Refugees

East Texans are coming to the aid of others once again. With each catastrophic event whether it be a shuttle disaster or a natural disaster the people of East Texas are known for reaching out.

"Thank You," is a phrase heard over and over again at the Nacogdoches Red Cross volunteers donate their purchases, belongings, time and money.

Merci Nickels was the first volunteer to arrive Tuesday morning. She's still there. "Yeah, I've just been sorting through donations and putting those together and helping people if they need something. Go back and getting it for them."

Leftover diapers, promotional t-shirts, blankets and toys are given away. A health clinic brings in toothbrushes. Cases of water are delivered. Red Cross Director Glenna Harkness is pleased. "The outpouring of the community has been wonderful. It is so amazing."

Helping hands come from the International Alert Academy from Big Sandy. Captain Chris Overby explained their purpose. "We'll respond free of charge to that community in whatever capacity they need us to assist."

Then there's the Nacogdoches Peace Officers Association matching a corporate donation for games. Or the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office and Texas Farm Products manning a trailer for non perishables.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Ken Jackson encouraged others. "Don't wait around to be asked, just go do it."

Dairy Queen delivers 100 hamburgers for lunch. General manager Michelle Rex said, "Just do what you can. Every little bit helps. Every little bit."

Like the stuffed animal for a scared little girl to hug. For her more frightened mother a hug of encouragement.

The refugees watch television. They see looters in their cities. In East Texas they learn to accept a much kinder side of human nature.

A refugee reminds those in need. "The good Lord blessed us well. The opportunity to not only give help, but be helped is important."

Refugees will be served for at least another two weeks. People wishing to volunteer during that time are encouraged to sign up at the Red Cross Shelter. Also check with local churches and service agencies. Most of them also have relief efforts underway.