The lawn at 405 E. Evergreen St. looked more like a disaster relief shelter Monday than a private residence as Paysonites continue to rally and mobilize in efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"We've got a 24-foot truck here," said Butch Klein, owner of Quality Movers. "We're going to fill it until it hits 26,000 pounds. That's the limit on this truck. Of course the water is heavy, but it's vital."
Drivers Klein and Mike Kobo, who works for Quality Movers, left early Tuesday morning bound for New Orleans with a fully loaded truck carrying water, canned food, clothing, diapers, towels, wash cloths, blankets and personal hygiene products such as soap and toilet paper. Rim Country residents from all over the community turned out with donations.
Cars clogged East Evergreen Street Monday; parking spaces were hard to find as people continued to drop off contributions.
"This is a community effort," said Marion Kobo. "It's awesome. We've just been inundated with people wanting to help. We're just so blessed. We've had people from all over giving us supplies and cash. That's just how amazing it is. We want to make a difference."
The idea to collect and haul relief supplies directly to those in need was announced in church on Sunday and the response was overwhelming.
"Marion has a connection with a church in Louisiana, where the stuff is being taken," said Alana Wallace. "That church will open its doors and distribute the items. I think that's one of the reasons we had such a huge response. People want to know that the donations are reaching the needy and not sitting in a warehouse somewhere."
Members of several churches and civic groups folded and bagged clothing, sorted boxes and carried them to the truck. Wellwishers stopped by to drop off more donations and bid the drivers farewell.
"People who were just traveling through Payson during the holiday weekend made donations," Marion said. "We've got kids here hauling boxes. It's impressive. I've been here since the 70s and this town always does this. It's just the way the people are."
More local efforts
Diamond Star Fire Chief Gary Hatch and firefighter emergency medical technician Bob Eavenson left Saturday, Sept. 3, to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Katrina disaster relief effort.
Hatch and Eavenson flew to Atlanta, where they received one-day indoctrination training before being assigned to one of the many ongoing relief efforts throughout the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Hatch has attended a variety of courses, including incident command at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. He has been a member of the Diamond Star Fire Department since its inception in 1981 and has responded to thousands of emergencies. He was involved in many major incidents, including the Dude, Willow and Rodeo/Chediski fires.
Eavenson, a veteran Diamond Star Firefighter EMT, has responded to many large wildfire incidents throughout Arizona, Montana and California. His knowledge of working within large incident management situations will undoubtedly be valuable to Katrina relief efforts.
Hatch and Eavenson are expected to be gone a minimum of 30 days.
Car wash for Katrina
The Payson Center for Success, a district-sponsored charter high school, held a car wash Friday, Sept. 2 to raise money for the victims of Katrina. The fund-raiser netted $2,000, with an average donation of $20. One customer, however, donated $500. The Bank of America matched proceeds dollar-for-dollar, which means $4,000 was collected.
"I am very proud of our students for organizing and participating in this fund-raiser," said Kathe Ketchum, principal of the Payson Center for Success. Proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross.
Hats on for Katrina
Students at Julia Randall Elementary School had a special hat day Friday, Sept. 2. For a 50-cent donation, students were permitted to wear a hat at school, which is normally prohibited. Hat Day was sponsored by the student council, with all proceeds going to benefit Katrina victims.
The money raised, $180, was added to a collection jar that the school is hoping to fill.
"The jar is about one-quarter full," said Debbie Waterman, a secretary at the school. "We are still collecting money and hoping to fill the jar. We are encouraging students to give what they can."
All proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross.
See related story:
Hurricane Katrina's impact hits home (Sept. 2)