Hurricane Katrina's Impact Hits Home

Everyone can contribute something to relief efforts

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Payson residents are mobilizing to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama earlier this week.

Devin and Laurel Wala, owners of Manzanita Adventure Sports, want to do something in which their children, Ryland, 9, and Lindsey, 6, can participate.

"We think it's good to get the kids active and involved in helping the hurricane victims," Devin said. "We see this as an opportunity for neighbors to help neighbors and a way to get our kids -- and other kids as well -- involved."

The Walas are sponsoring a weekend-long fund-raiser at their business to help hurricane victims. A bake sale and lemonade stand tops the list of activities.

"They've been seeing the devastation on TV and wanted to do something," Laurel said. "This is a way they can help -- whether it's baking cookies at home or helping to sell them at the bake sale. This is something children can do."

Devin added that people can donate baked goods or volunteer to help staff the bake sale stand.

"The idea is to get local people -- especially children -- involved in the relief effort," he said.

The bake sale will take place at Manzanita Adventure Sports, 307 S. Beeline Highway, from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

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Life Star Ambulance drivers Jackie Scott and Tracey Chovanec and Payson firefighters Tom Barker and Rob Berry fill a donation box in front of Station 11.

In addition to the bake sale, Manzanita Adventure Sports is raffling a Giant Cypress full suspension hybrid adult bicycle, valued at $500. Tickets are $5 each and are available at local restaurants, including Beeline Cafe, Country Kitchen, Macky's Grill, Nana's, Pizza Factory, Roadrunner Espresso and Wayne's Donuts.

The Walas said that 100 percent of the proceeds from the raffle and the bake sale will go directly to the Katrina relief effort, as well as 25 percent of their store's net proceeds earned over Labor Day weekend.

Manzanita Adventure Sports teamed up with the local American Red Cross and will serve as a Red Cross collection center over the weekend.

Lew Levenson, government liaison for the Rim Country branch of the American Red Cross, said not everyone can contribute cash, but everyone can contribute something.

"There will be collecting spots where people can bring donations," he said, although delivering donations to the devastated areas could be a challenge because of the extensive damage Katrina caused to the transportation infrastructure.

"We will take anything they want to give, including time," Levenson said. "We will see that all donations get to the people who are in need."

Levenson said the Grand Canyon Chapter has sent 28 volunteers -- including a woman from Pine -- and one staff member to assist in the disaster area. Levenson said Red Cross policy prohibits identifying the volunteer from Pine by name. At press time, the Red Cross had 230 shelters open, housing about 40,000 people.

"Right now, the Red Cross has already committed more resources to this relief effort than (it has) ever committed in the organization's entire history," Levenson said. "And this is only the beginning. The only equivalence in history to this disaster is Hiroshima and people are still dealing with that."

Editor's note: For a list of other relief efforts, see the editorial in this issue.

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