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5.9.05

Lending a Hand

Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Washington have temporarily taken over the top position on the Ionarts page, as they did yesterday and the day before. If you are suffering from disaster fatigue, continue to page down for our regular content.

The Moms on the Hill (MoTHs) and their friends continue their efforts to raise money and collect donated items to give to the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. News reports on WTOP last night speculated that perhaps no evacuees were coming to Washington, but today we have learned (also reported in the Washington Post) that hundreds of evacuees will arrive today by airplane from Arkansas, which was overwhelmed and asked the District government for help. The buses that were sent down are still planning to fill up with anyone who wants to evacuate Louisiana and come to Washington, which means that our city may eventually be hosting more than a thousand evacuees. Churches and private citizens have offered long-term help for those arriving, after they have been taken care of initially in the D.C. Armory.

I have to say that Mrs. Ionarts, who dreamed up this insane idea while she was busy at school on Friday, has worked her heart out on this effort, and I am very proud of her. You may have seen or heard her and her fellow MoTHs in the news reports on CNN, local Fox and NBC television, WTOP radio, and USA Today. Yesterday afternoon, we managed to box up most of the donated supplies and took everything (except clothes) to the fire station at 15th and C Streets SE (see images below). The happiest part was making little crates of toys, books, and stuffed animals for the kids, although I cracked open the Yuengling box that had somehow been mislabeled as appropriate for 6-month-olds. The MoTHs are not accepting any more donations of goods, so don't bring anything more, but they will take money or gift cards, as well as help from anyone who wants to help finish boxing things up this morning:

WHEN: Monday, September 5, 10:30 am to 1 pm [UPDATE: The work is done, so don't show up at the church!]

WHERE: Christ Church Episcopal, 620 G Street SE


If you still want to donate money or personal items for families and children (diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, nonperishable baby food jars, pacifiers, toothbrushes, personal hygiene items, and so on), take them directly to your local fire station (instead of police stations, which have been overwhelmed with the local response). The plan is that trucks will make regular rounds of police and fire stations to accept donated goods. Officials have specified that they will not accept offers of clothing, which they would have to clean before distributing. The D.C. government Web site says that those interested in helping should call the Mayor's Call Center (202-727-1000) or Serve DC (202-727-7925). Also, you can send your name, phone number, and e-mail address to the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area. Jeffrey Daniels is the Manager of Emergency Services over there (danielsj at redcrossnca dot org) or contact him by phone (202-303-4521). We will be at the Armory today as volunteers on the front line to help with the arrival and processing of the evacuees from Arkansas. The MoTHs are definitely ready to help diaper babies and give crates of toys to little kids.

UPDATE:
Oh, yeah, and Happy Labor Day to all our American readers. Given the crazy circumstances of our lives right now, today doesn't really feel like a holiday, except that we are not at our normal jobs, and we like it just fine like that.

UPDATE 2:
I just posted the latest news on events at the Armory, including a photograph taken when I went by there about an hour ago, at DCist.

UPDATE 3:
Mrs. Ionarts was featured briefly on CNN yesterday and today: let's go to the video. She's the one writing on a box of infant clothes.

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