Thursday, September 15, 2005

Maryland Children Send Words of Comfort to Survivors

Monday, September 12, 2005 — MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Scrawled by a child’s hand on orange construction paper, the words read: “Dear Katrina survivors, I hope you find a home. I know I would be veary sad if I loost my house and toys. We are thinking about you.”
American Red Cross volunteer and Maryland psychologist Rick Ottenstein reads hand-made notes made by Maryland schoolchildren for Hurricane Katrina survivors, Montgomery, Ala., Sept. 8, 2005. (Photo Credit: Katie Fowler/American Red Cross)
Another note decorated with rainbows and smiley faces said: “We care about you 10,000 times.” And, another included this wish: “I hope this feels like a big hug.”
The cards came from school children at Freedom Elementary School in Sykesville, Md., who sent the words of comfort, via the American Red Cross, to Gulf Coast residents who have lost everything.
School counselor Sue Pahl said that students were asking what they could do to help the more than a million people displaced by the catastrophic storm on Aug. 29. The school started a fundraiser but wanted to do more. Her husband Rick Ottenstein is a psychologist and an American Red Cross volunteer who is helping with the hurricane relief operation; he suggested that she have the students send personal notes.
“Rick told me what he was seeing,” Pahl said. “These people really need to know that they aren’t forgotten, and this is something the children can actively do,”
Fifth-grader Phyllis Blessing, 10, said that she just wanted the evacuees to know she was thinking of them.
“When I think of all the stuff I have at my house, I feel so sad for them,” Phyllis said. “I hope they find somewhere to stay until their homes get rebuilt.”
Pahl express-mailed the notes to her husband at the Red Cross disaster relief headquarters in Montgomery, Ala., on Sept. 7. These cards will be posted at Red Cross shelters and service centers in Biloxi, Miss., one of the hardest hit areas.
Many children did the same thing for survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The notes were posted on bulletin boards at Ground Zero, Ottenstein, who also volunteered at the Red Cross relief operation there, indicated.
Personal notes offer solace and support to survivors in a time of tragedy, loss and uncertainty, he shared, saying that it’s another way to show the hurricane evacuees that the rest of the nation cares.
“We wanted to show children affected by the hurricane that people in other parts of the country care about them and what happens to them and that they are not alone,” Ottenstein said. “It gives the children and families a sense of not being abandoned.”


Post a Comment

<< Home