Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Woman helps launch local fund drive

September 7, 2005

Marilyn Thompson wanted to help.

The 70-year-old Tonganoxie woman said that Thursday was the first time she'd been away from the television last week. It wasn't the daytime shows she'd been watching -- it was the coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Finally on Thursday morning, Thompson tore herself from the television news and headed to the elementary school where she helps at the volunteer center.

Then she headed out to raise money for hurricane victims.

By Friday morning, several Tonganoxie businesses already had cans on their counters so that residents could donate to the Heart To Heart hurricane relief fund.

Heart to Heart is an international charitable organization that has a nearby branch in Olathe. Its Web site is www.hearttoheart.org.

Thompson not only plans to involve the community, she's already met with school Superintendent Richard Erickson to see if, for instance, children might bring pennies to school to donate to the relief effort.

Erickson took Thompson's suggestion to heart and said he would bring up her idea to school administrators.

"I'll visit with them to get the wheels rolling," Erickson said. "I think that's a wonderful cause. I'm glad that Marilyn, a local resident, is moving forward to take up that cause."

Thompson's interest in the hurricane was magnified because she had a nephew and friends who live in New Orleans. Her nephew, she said, left New Orleans and went to Texas before the hurricane hit.

"I'm thankful that my nephew and his family are out of there," Thompson said. "But I feel so sorry for those people, gosh it just makes you cry, it's so terrible. ... They're lost, they don't know what they're going to do next -- no money, no gas, no food, no water."

Thompson, who said she didn't want credit for starting a fund drive here, said one person couldn't do it alone.

But if the town works together, she said, much more is possible.

Thompson said people will be collecting donations in front of the banks Saturday, and possibly in front of other Tonganoxie businesses, as well.

Save the stamps

While residents may want to contact friends and relatives who live in the hurricane-stricken area, writing a letter might not be feasible -- at least not for a while. That's because some mail processing plants "are either under water or they have no power," said Tonganoxie postmaster Ron Hubbard.

"I've got a list of zip codes the other day that are basically closed," Hubbard said. "It's a list of about 200 zip codes that are currently not receiving service. The list changes from day to day."

Hubbard said the non-working post offices are in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

At the state level

On Thursday, the Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a disaster emergency proclamation that activates the disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan.

Sebelius also issued two executive orders. And, she took the unusual step of essentially allowing state employees who are certified by the Red Cross as disaster assistance specialists to leave their state jobs and go to the storm areas.

They will receive "disaster leave," which essentially provides for salary and fringe benefits while deployed with the Red Cross. This allows state employees, who are certified by the American Red Cross to serve in relief efforts, to be eligible for disaster leave.

The second executive order suspends the enforcement of limits of overweight and oversized vehicles and requirements for licensing/operating authority/registration as required by the Kansas Corporation Commission for vehicles assisting in the restoration efforts.

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