Children Are Angels From Heaven


Hurricane Katrina - Follow Up 2005

In September 2005, the gulf coast of the United States was hit by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people were killed and left homeless. I have never seen so many American families left with nothing, and I knew Angels from Heaven had to do something to help these poor people. I had a small amount of money and donations (from all of you) that were in storage ready for shipment and felt that we should send them to the people in need in the New Orleans area. The only difficult part would be getting them there.

If you remember back a few years ago, I had a raffle for two Daytona Race tickets. The winner was Diane Rattray from New Hampshire. Well, long story short, Diane and her family had moved just outside of New Orleans a few years ago, so I contacted her and told her that I had donations that I wanted to send to help the people in the New Orleans area and asked her if I could send the donations to her. Without even so much as a question, Diane said, yes! With help from my friend, Steve Powers, we went to our storage trailer at Xpedx Paper Company in Wilmington, MA and off-loaded two large drums and boxes of donations to ship to New Orleans. The donations included many children’s clothes and lots of balls, toys and stuffed animals. I thought that wherever the people were, a toy or ball would be a good donation as it would occupy the children in a homeless center during a time of crisis. It was agreed by Diane that the shipment should be made as close to her church as possible, as all the roads were closed near her home -- although her home and family were ok. Her church, the First United Methodist Church in LaPlace, Louisiana was located about 20 miles from New Orleans. It was set up as an emergency shelter for Red Cross Workers who slept and ate there during this emergency.

Everything was shipped from Boston the next day, but as far as U.P.S. was able to take them was 50 miles from the church. It took 5 days for everything to arrive, but Diane and the First Methodist Church finally had all the donations from Angels from Heaven and were busy sorting everything and getting it ready to distribute. Because this disaster was very large and the Red Cross workers were working 12-14 hour shifts, I felt it important to make sure they continued to have a good meal waiting for them at the Church when they returned after each shift, so I sent Diane $500 from Angels from Heaven to help with the purchase of food for the volunteers of the Red Cross. In all, Children are Angels from Heaven, Steve Powers, Diane Rattray and her family, along with The First United Methodist Church, did everything they could to help the people during this time of need.

Below are two pictures – the first one shows Steve Powers getting the donations ready to be shipped, and the second shows Diane and the members of her Church sorting the donations.

Diane worked with the Red Cross for much of this disaster and she describes the experience in her own words below.

Letter From Diane

FIRST, I must thank Ray and all those who support Children are Angels for sending the barrels to this area in our time of need. Everything is greatly appreciated.

The people you have helped are many, and I hope that you can understand my decision not to take photographs. Most people who have been affected are proud people and did not enjoy taking handouts, for some it was humiliating. The situation was out of their control and that is so hard to accept. My heart aches for their losses, which are too vast to list.

The baby and young children’s clothes were given to families who had moved into other family’s homes right there in town where the church is. They had only taken things for a few days when they left New Orleans, and then unable to return after the storm since there was nothing to return to.

The adult clothes went to a clothing drive being organized by a group of senior high school students in my town. This way their way of doing community service. Everything went to people who had lost clothes to the flood of the storm.

I had arranged for the wonderful people that I met through my involvement with the Red Cross to bring the trolls (dolls) to Baton Rouge. That was the closest shelter to us. I asked for them to be given to the Doctors and Nurses to distribute to the patients. I knew they would cheer up people. With their silly faces and colorful hair they were bound to make someone smile. Well, I got to hear just how much people enjoyed them a few days later. I was helping a delivery driver bring in supplies and she was telling me that she’d just come from the River Center. That’s the center I’d sent the trolls to. She said they were everywhere, on people’s cots, shelves, desks, and best of all, A little old lady in a wheel chair had tied two of them to her wheelchair and referred to it as her troll mobile! Something so silly, so simple has made that ladies day and mine just hearing about it.

I held on to the stuffed animals, my goal was to get the chance to go down to one of the distribution sites and give them out myself. I found the right person to tag along with and I will never forget what I saw on he corner of Esplanade Avenue in the residential section of the famous French Quarter. This is the area that the tourists never see, unless they get lost. This is the very poor area where people had lived their whole lives. The place where you really see the pain of loss that has been endured, and the hope that will keep them cleaning up, day after day trying to rebuild their lives. Even before we got off the interstate I could see just how vast the destruction was, it truly became a ghost town, and some had begun to refer to it as NO town. The NO being for New Orleans. Dozens of abandoned cars the median, here that is referred to as the common ground. The cars were completely submerged in the floodwaters. Trash was heaped everywhere and refrigerators lined the curbs waiting for pick up that just could not come, since most of the trash trucks had been flooded too. The ominous X on the front of every house, showing that it had been checked for occupants.

We reached the site and found the group from the church. I unloaded buckets and watched for kids in the cars. At first there were none, then I saw two approaching the entrance, I got a couple of stuffed animals and walked over to the car, smiled and said hello to the Mom and asked if I could give the kids the toys, she gratefully said yes. And the kids reached out for the stuffed animals, the smiles in their eyes made my day. They had most likely lost their things and having something to hug was of comfort to them. Everyone looked so tired, things were not happening very fast then, electricity was sporadic then and water still couldn’t be trusted.

The people were there to get water, a lunch and some simple things to start mopping up the mess that their lives had become were not only poor people, they were simply people. They had suffered a loss that most of us will never even be able to comprehend.

I hope that with my words I have painted a picture for you, not just of sadness and destruction, but also of hope that the people have here. The sheer determinations to come, pick up, and literally, dust off and start again.

As you can see, Diane has become my Angel from New Orleans. The members of Children are Angels from Heaven would like to extend its sincere thanks to Diane and the volunteers from her church who selflessly devoted their time to help accomplish our goal to help our neighbors in their time of need. We would also like to thank Steve Powers for preparing the drums and all of you for your donations and support.

Children are Angels from Heaven