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Hurricane Katrina

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New York City kids send help to their peers in the south.
By Nathan Kahn, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

open-toed shoes and sandals
These are just some of the shoes collected this week by the Hebrew Tabernacle/Beth Am Hebrew School to send to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, currently home to about 6,000 Katrina refugees from New Orleans, Louisiana. Open-toed shoes and sandals were best as sizing is a little more flexible. Pictured (left to right): Sheldon Koy, Principal Connie Heymann, and students David Ritter, Claire Heuberger, and Vera Kahn.

More Students' Stories:
Project Backpack
Riding Out Hurricane Katrina on a Boat
With the Games Comes Relief

(Photo: E. Lorris Ritter )
Everybody in New York City wants to help Katrina victims; even kids. Independent School No. 126, the Manhattan Academy of Technology (MAT), had two interesting ideas for Hurricane Katrina aid.

The first thing they did was to hold a bake sale. Two sixth-grade classes suggested it. The Parents Association approved the idea. The bake sale was held on Friday, September 16, during the school's three lunch periods.

MAT's sixth-graders also have been writing letters of support to children in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, who have had to leave their homes because of Hurricane Katrina. The letters are written in social studies class.

William Leung wrote in his message: "Do all of your homework."

Alonzo King wrote a short poem expressing his support. "God will help you so good; then you will return to your neighborhood."

These Shoes Are Made for Giving

The Hebrew Tabernacle/Beth Am Hebrew School in Washington Heights is also helping out. Their approach is quite different from the norm. The tabernacle is sending shoes.

One of the members received an e-mail from a woman who was looking to collect shoes for donation because she saw so many barefoot ex-Louisiana residents.

They has so far collected several hundred pairs, mostly adjustable summer shoes because they can fit a wider range of feet. One of the principals involved with the projects is Connie Heyman, the principal of the Hebrew School.

"Maybe our kids feel better about this tragedy [if they can] help other children that they don't even know," Heyman told Scholastic News Online.

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A member of the LeBron James' Foundation
A member of the LeBron James' Foundation hands a donated backpack to a young evacuee, who was displaced due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina during Kenny Smith's Hurricane Katrina relief effort and NBA Players Charity Game event on September 11, 2005 at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.
(Photo: Chris Graythen/NBAE via Getty Images )
Project Backpack
By Blake and Luke Murphy, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Two sisters watching the news one evening, saw children who escaped Hurricane Katrina with only their lives. Those scenes of children with nothing in their arms, prompted action from Jenna and Melissa Kantor of Bethesda, Maryland.

Jenna, 8, and Melissa, 11, began a project gathering and delivering backpacks to children whose lives were devastated by Katrina. In less than a week and a half, these enterprising sisters surpassed their goal of 1,000 backpacks. They collected more than 10,000!

Local residents helped out, collecting backpacks filled with items such as toys, games, school supplies, coloring books, cards, books, and magazines. The backpacks were delivered to Walt Whitman High School. From there they were loaded onto a Southwest Airlines jet, which delivered them to children in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The Astrodome is a sports stadium now being used to shelter evacuees from the hurricane.

"Project Backpack" became so popular so fast because it was "for kids, by kids," explained Melissa.

This project allows kids to do something both physically and mentally, she said, beyond money donations.

The sisters have also received a lot of local and national press coverage, which helped the idea catch on. They have been on National Public Radio, CNN TV, and featured in an article in The Washington Post. Backpacks are now being collected throughout the 50 states.

These fourth and sixth grade girls, who enjoy soccer and dance, have offered children much like themselves something more valuable than the actual contents of the backpacks: they have offered them the gifts of love and compassion, and a hope for a brighter future.

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R. David Paulison
Amy LeBouef and her parents on the boat that kept them safe through Hurricane Katrina in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
(Photo: Dan Alvey)
Riding Out Hurricane Katrina on a Boat
By Amy LeBouef, Thibodaux, Louisiana

Some people might think that staying on a boat for a hurricane is a little crazy. My father has been a licensed boat captain for over 27 years, and he has always said that staying on a boat is safer than staying in a house.

The boat that my father, mother, brother, grandmother, and I stayed on was a 115-foot-long live-aboard dive yacht. The boat has two generators, so we were never out of power. It also has built-in water tanks for fresh water—all the comforts of home! The boat has two diesel engines as the main power souce, so it can be moved if needed.

Another reason a boat in harbor is safer than in a house on land is that the boat will rise with the water.

My experience of riding out the hurricane on a boat was a good one. At first when I arrived I was a little scared because I didn't know what to expect. Later in the day, the hurricane hit. The winds started blowing very hard, but the boat did not shake and we felt nothing.

We didn't even hear the winds whistle. The waves in the water started to get choppy. Early in the morning we started to see that the water was getting a little rougher and had white caps. At this time I was a little afraid, but I knew it would be OK because I trusted my father's knowledge.

I saw the neighboring boat, the Rebbecca M, start to rock a little but nothing happened. We saw the flowers in a nearby graveyard start to fly by, and a piece of a person's roof was torn off.

The storm was finally over and we got news that we would be having company on the boat. It was a division of a SWAT team that was helping maintain order in New Orleans.

The people on the SWAT team were very nice and caring. They would arrive on the boat at about 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. We had food waiting for them, cooked by my mom and grandmother. Also helping with the cooking was the owner of the Rebbecca M, Mr. Dan (Dan Alvey of Marble Falls, Texas) and others. They always thanked us for giving them a home-cooked meal. They really appreciated it because they were eating MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, the food the military gives its soldiers in combat).

They were very grateful to have a clean, cool place to sleep after a long, hard day's work.

Every day on the boat was a new experience for me and my family. I don't think we will ever forget it.

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With the Games Comes Relief
By Evelyn Velez, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

At Edgewater High School in Orlando, Florida, the students and staff are helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina by battling each other.

This week only, the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and staff are having a war of the pennies.

The "Penny Wars" works like this: Each group has a 5-gallon water jug. At lunch the jugs are passed around so students and staff can donate money. Each penny is worth one point. The catch is, each nickel is negative five points, each dime minus ten, and so on.

As a matter of fact, anything other than a penny subtracts its value in cents. The common strategy is to put anything other than pennies in the jugs other than your own. As of now, all groups have a negative score! The important thing is that the students and staff managed to collect more than $300 in the first two days.

Each group is represented by an administrator. The seniors are represented by the principal. The representative of the group that loses will have to dress up in a silly outfit. The winning group gets an extended pep rally.

The "Penny Wars" is a fun competition with a worthy cause. All of the money collected will go to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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