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Have You Given?

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Surely by now, no one has escaped the harrowing tales and grim images from the aftermath of Katrina.

Forget the material loss for a moment, the homes damaged beyond repair, debris strewn hither and yon: it can be overwhelming to comprehend the time and energy involved in rebuilding the lives of those who lost so much.

What has touched me are the everyday worries that consume us unaffected folks magnified by imagining myself living in a shelter with hundreds or thousands of other people, perhaps having lost a loved one, or just not knowing what has happened to my friends and family.

We aren’t just talking about those who, as some say, “ignored the warnings” and stayed. What about the million or so who fled and can’t go home because their home isn’t home anymore?

It’s easy to allow this whole issue to become a political one, or one about race, or one about economic divide. But really none of that matters, what really is at stake here is Americans in need: our neighbors, our people. Does it really matter who they are, what color their skin is or if they were rich or poor?

If you are a person with any empathy and can imagine being in their place, all of your belongings ruined, heirlooms gone, pictures destroyed that can never be replaced, extracted from your home through no fault of your own but through an act of nature – or as insurance companies call it – an act of God, then you can understand what was lost.

Right now, almost anyone reading this has Midas’ wealth compared to these people. All we are asking for is a teeny tiny amount of that to be donated to the victims on behalf of Blogcritics – a collective community of people who have much more power in the many than any of us in the one.

Most of the people who have donated have NOT been writers on this site, but generous readers. I saw several listed who gave $100 and one man who gave $360 – and no his name was not Bill Gates.

My own mom, who isn’t what you would call wealthy, gave $50 – that makes our paltry $20 shameful – we will give more as soon as I get paid.

It would be really great if as a community we could send a message to the world that this rag-tag group of opinion makers from all over the political spectrum can come together to donate to our neighbors in a way that is the least painful emotionally, physically and financially.

I could keep pouring on the guilt, and explain in great detail how Lisa Hoover has harassed the hell out of Paypal to get them to waive their fees, been in contact with Red Cross officials to designate EXACTLY were every dime will go, but you are good and intelligent people. I think you just need to be reminded and you will give till it hurts.

Or at least until it stings.

Thank you for helping those who need our help!!

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About Dawn Olsen

  • I’ve given. I hope others have too.
    I’ve heard a good argument made that where the real need is not the first or second week – when they get flooded with help – but around now when people start to taper off with their donation requests.

  • NC

    I was going to donate but I decided to spend the money on a Kanye West CD instead.


  • Les Slater

    Charity will not solve the problem and the problem needs to be solved.

    We cannot ignore the criminal social set-up in which this took place. The people were left to fend for themselves, suffer and die.

    The government is the only entity which has the resources available to begin to materially aid people putting their lives, families, homes and jobs back together.

    All displaced adults should receive a living wage and housing should be made available to all those who need it. Much is already available but what isn’t should become the object of a massive federally funded construction program at prevailing wages.

  • Dawn

    A lot has been made of the racial element and the lack of assistance to this tragedy, but I think if there is truly any real discrimination going on it’s a socio-economic one.

    Had this happened in the rural Appalachians towns and hollers I lived in as a kid, I assure the outcome would have been the same.

    Who cares if the poor don’t get what they need? Typically not the government, it’s usually religious and other charity organizations who come to the needs of the poor.

    That’s not to say that locally there weren’t any racial issues – it would appear the neighboring town of Gretna didn’t want any poor black folks in their town either, even though there was an evacuation order going on.

    I don’t know if they cared if you were white or black – all that mattered was that you were desperate and that was enough to keep you out, shoot at you AND steal your fucking water and food. Very nice!

    Again – no one is saying you must donate, but if you are compelled and you thinks it’s worth the effort, please do so collectively so we can send a nice donation with BC’s name on. It’s voluntary and the political crap is just that.

    There are lots of people who did exactly what the government asked and still lost everything – is that so hard to comprehend? A natural disaster can happen ANYWHERE.

  • Eric Olsen

    right on, woman

    and Lee, isn’t that exactly what Bush announced Thursday night?

  • NC

    A lot has been made of the racial element and the lack of assistance to this tragedy, but I think if there is truly any real discrimination going on it’s a socio-economic one.

    Where’s the “discrimination,” though? Poor people have less so tough times affect them more. An unfortunate fact, but not indicative of prejudice.


  • If you don’t believe in the New Orleans cause (which I myself am skeptical of this massive rebuild), put your efforts towards building something worth building. The last thing we need is for overcritical people to tear down and be negative. We have enough destructive weather for that role.

  • I’ve given, darling Dawn. And I’ve urged others to give as well. Since one of my mentors was more than “affected” by Katrina, I pushed hard for donations. (I donated before that.)

    Please keep reminding everyone how essential it is to help those in need.

  • Les Slater

    “and Lee, isn’t that exactly what Bush announced Thursday night?”

    It’s Les.

    I watched and listened and did not hear that. I found a transcript of the speech and read it carefully and did not find that.

    Bush said “The Department of Labor is helping displaced persons apply for temporary jobs and unemployment benefits.

    And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama”

    Sounds like the usual crap that the government promises. He also signed a law, which stipulates that federal contracts will not have to abide by prevailing wage clauses. A good precedent, and a green light, for employers to take advantage of the dire straits the community is in.

    Bush again, “Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment, tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again. It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity; it is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty; and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region.”

    He is talking about incentives here. “It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity.” He is talking about leveraging a relatively small amount of cash to get carpetbaggers rich after underwriting cheap loans to them. The money being put up is to assure those that invest will profit handsomely.

    “I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search.”

    And what will they be paid during education or job training? Child care? We know the government’s stinginess with Medicare, most doctors refuse patients if they can. Is there any reason to believe that this will be better?

    “I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery.”

    A lottery? That means that the government does not have nearly enough property to go around. Sign up and you might get lucky.

    Overall, nothing like what is needed and the U.S. government has a long history of reneging on promises.

  • I gave to two charities directly, which is my preference. I’m sure that many have given money directly.

  • RJ

    I donated directly to the RC shortly after the storm. I also donated to the HSUS, which is doing good work that I have blogged about on this site.

    And just today, I donated again to the RC, via this link.

  • RJ

    Point is, all of us should be giving to some charity in the wake of this disaster. And if you want to give some money to the Red Cross, it would be nice of you to donate it via this link.

  • Hey all,

    My name is Kevin Lang, though you probably know me as Lono. In my spare time, I am a volunteer for the American Red Cross. What we really need right now, more than money… Is volunteers. All the money in the world won’t feed folks, or unload trucks of water, or set up shelters. The American Red Cross works off of volunteer labor. So, more than your money, we could use your help. Last week the American Red Cross announced they have 35,000 volunteers… And they need 40,000 more!

    I am not a Red Cross spokesperson, on any level. I am simply a disaster volunteer. We can honestly use ANY kind of help y’all can offer.


    Kevin (Lono) Lang
    Parker, CO

  • Dawn

    Joan – Thanks for your donation and that of dozens of others. It’s truly what makes Americans special.

    Don’t worry NC, I will stay away from your wallet 😉

    Lono, I wish I lived closer to the affected areas so that I could give my time – sadly this donation drive was the best I could come up with.

    I am actually considering contacting Michele Catalano and asking her how she organized her donation drive for the Kids of Katrina – because like you said Lono, money isn’t the answer to everything that is needed for the victims.

    If I was a displaced student, man what I would love is some cool new school supplies and maybe a new pair of shoes. Being able to blend in like a regular kid without the awkwardness of being in a new school, having lost all of my things, might just be a little less.

    It’s a thought. It seems like what she did is a lot more work, but more
    directly helpful.

    Hey, doesn’t Phillip live in Texas, perhaps he can help us pick a shelter and deliver it.

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

  • the shelters are all over. Here in Denver, CO we have a shelter housing roughly 700 evacuees, which is expected to grow to 1,000.

    Oh, and Rita is around the corner and early indications are basically all bad for the gulf coast in this one too.