Seeing first hand what Katrina has done

Here in south Arkansas we are seeing first hand what Katrina has done to so many innocent people. Many that were able to leave before she hit are now in our little town of 16,000. Everywhere you go you see Louisiana and Mississippi vehicle tags.

Once again our town has pulled together, businesses helping each other, churches working together, school children preparing for new students to enroll over the next few days, donations are coming in by individuals, organizations, churches, businesses, and school children.

You over hear mothers having to tell their children they can't afford to buy a little bag of candy, you hear babies crying they are tired and want their beds and you hear men and women saying Thank You for everything you are doing to help.

My kids and I delivered bags of goodies that included coloring books, crayons, candy, Teddy Grahams, cars and stuffed animals to the National Guard Armory this afternoon. While there one of the guardsman shared a story with us.

A family had come in earlier. He had shown them to the cold drinks and snacks, telling them to help themselves to anything they wanted. They could also take anything they needed such as diapers, toothbrushes, socks, and etc. As they were leaving they stopped by the office to thank him. The little boy around 5 yrs old looked up to the 6'4, 250 lb man and said, "Mr. Soldier, I Love You." As he was telling the story tears were falling down his face.

Today I experienced the joy of helping one of these families and I want to share it with all of you.

This morning I went to the Dollar Store to pick up cleaning supplies and parked beside a car from Louisiana. A man, women, little boy and a baby girl got out. I followed them toward the store.

The little boy asked his daddy if he could get a toy. Well let me tell you the tears started following. The man stopped and bent down to him and said, "Ryan don't forget what we talked about before we got out of the car. We can't get any toys today. We have to buy baby diapers and clothes for you and Gracie." He whined a little and held his daddy's hand and walked in like a big boy.

I couldn't stand it. They went straight for the diapers and clothes. I walked over and began talking with them. I asked if they were from down in LA. I was told yes. They had been here for three days and had been staying at one of our local hotels for free, but had to find shelter elsewhere today as the hotel would only allow you 2 free nights and then they would help you find shelter. This was so that everyone coming in could atleast have a night or two of rest in a bed and have hot showers. During the conversation I learned they had lost their home and everything they had. The little boy was 3 and the baby was 2 weeks. He worked in downtown New Orleans. They had left with what little they could grab and put into their tiny vehicle which I assume didn't have air as they had their windows down. Now it was in the upper 90's today and no one would drive around with their windows down if they had air conditioning.

I asked if I could take the little boy to the toys to pick out something. The woman grabbed me and hugged me like she had known me all of her life and the man grabbed my hand and I didn't think he was going to let go.They handed the little boy over to me and he grabbed my hand grinning from ear to ear.

We went back to the toys and out of all the toys he picked up this one little match box car and said this is what I want. So I picked out another one, then I said let's go get a book to read, he wanted to get the baby one too, so we did. Then we got a coloring book and a box of jumbo crayons. Up to the candy and he picked up suckers and a package of gummy bears. I took him to the check out and the girl checking and me just stood there and cried while he was smiling.

I tied the bag so he wouldn't loose anything and told him not to open it until he got back in his car. As I was taking him back to his parents he saw them and started running, yelling "I got a car and a book and candy." They could not thank me enough and all I could think of was I just spent less than $8 and they couldn't have been happier.

So remember the little things count more than some of us will ever know.



Amy said...

Debbie, tears are rolling down my face. Thank you for sharing this story! and Thank you for making a difference!

Deb said...

Debbie- I read it before and it STILL gets to me. What a big heart you have! How many people would have thought to do this for that little boy? And what difference it made to him and his family!
Love you!