09/13/05 — Volunteers filling trailer to help Katrina victims

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Volunteers filling trailer to help Katrina victims

By Turner Walston
Published in News on September 13, 2005 1:50 PM

A donated trailer and a desire to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina have launched two Wayne County women into their own form of hurricane relief.

Spurred to action by the devastation along the Gulf Coast, Joanne Kraus and Deane Bernel received the use of a trailer donated by United Van Lines. Since then, they, along with other volunteers, have been filling that truck with goods designated for Hurricane Katrina flood victims.

Houser Associates donated space in its parking lot as a donation point. The volunteers are collecting a wide variety of items, including toiletries, non-perishable foods, diapers, baby formula, water and clothing. Monetary donations also are being accepted to help pay for the fuel. Any money donated above the cost of fuel will be donated to the Red Cross, Mrs. Kraus said.

The women said it took a week to find a place that would accept donations, because of the overwhelming support from across the country.

The 53-foot trailer will be driven to a staging area in Jackson, Miss., operated by the Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund. In addition to the trailer, United donated a driver, boxes and tape. The driver is not available for two weeks, so donations are still being taken. Mrs. Bernel said lots of people were pitching in.

"From Seymour Johnson to folks in the community," she said. "One of the local hotels wants to donate 10 mattresses and springs. We're trying to make room."

"It's been overwhelming," Mrs. Kraus said of the response. "The word got out, and the phone was ringing at 7:30 (Friday) morning."

Both women said their hurricane experiences inspired them to help Katrina victims.

"When I was in Fran, I didn't have power for a week and a half. And that, to people here, was devastating," Mrs. Bernel said. "You lost a convenience of your normal everyday living, and your food, but it's inconceivable to have nothing but the clothes on your back."

Volunteers, including students from Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne and Charles B. Aycock high schools, are helping to pack and label the donated items. Seymour Johnson Air Force Base has been represented by members of the 4th Operations Support Squadron.

"It's been great," Mrs. Kraus said. "Who knows? Maybe we can get another trailer."

"We sweat a lot, but it's worth it," Mrs. Bernel said. She said donating items gave more people an opportunity to lend a hand. People might not be able to give financially, she said. "If you've got your time, and you've got baby clothes, or baby items, or whatever, you can help."

Houser Associates is located at 504 N. Spence Ave., and is accepting donations Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.