Monday, September 05, 2005

More on survivor needs at Convention Center

The following is from someone who volunteered at the Convention Center today. I am hoping that if FEMA really takes over at the Convention Center, it does a better job than it has so far elsewhere.

Be sure to read the comment by sandia blanca, which addresses some of the points brought up below.

This is related to clothes, kids and office supplies from what I saw.

They are in need of shorts for boys 2T on up. They also need LOTS MORE of mens clothes, shoes (desperately!), underwear and socks. I had men coming over looking at the boys clothes to see if anything fit. I can't tell you how many men I saw walking around with shoes too small for them or some ready to take underwear 2 sizes too small because that's all there was.

I say boys and mens because I saw a lot of girls and baby stuff. And don't get me wrong... there are mounds and mounds of clothes and shoes, but it became pretty apparent what was lacking when someone would come over asking for help finding a size or something.

And I wanted to emphasize... summer clothes only. All the others are being tossed aside for now. There have been some people (mostly women and men) asking for something a little nicer to go to church or perhaps job hunting.

In the kids area they could use some very basic stuff, like stickers and easy games for 5 year olds. Some of the little girls would have loved to do some kind of craft or jewelry-making. And please... don't send toys that don't work or need batteries (unless you supply those too). I almost cried when a little boy pulled out 2 remote controlled cars and asked for my help getting them working. Both were broken.

I noticed that volunteers are in need of some office supplies, like name tag stickers (they need LOTS of these because they are using for kids too), tape, etc.

If you get to the convention center and they tell you to go somewhere else to drop things off, tell them you have specific items for the kids area or office supplies and I bet they won't turn you away. Or if you walk in and see someone with a wrist band, let them know.

FEMA was about to take over as I was leaving. They are halting new volunteers for the time being because they are setting up shop. The people in charge said to call the Red Cross number to find out what you can still do.

And now I need to have a good cry... I saw people who received news of a friend or loved one who had died. I saw kids who kept asking for their mommy and we didn't know where she was. I saw a 7 year old boy who was trying to be brave for his younger brother and sister, but as soon as they went down for nap, he quietly sobbed to me that he also wanted his mommy. It's too much to take in.

[UPDATE:] I wanted to follow-up by saying that you shouldn't stay away and just wait for a call from the Red Cross. I'm guessing you won't get one.

On Sunday night, we signed up for shifts today. We never got a call and no one else I talked to did either. And even as the Red Cross woman was turning people away, the people volunteering on the inside were desperately seeking help. In fact the woman running the kids area came running out asking for volunteers and was told that they couldn't let anyone else in. The problem is that they won't be giving out more wrist-bands... so if you have one already from volunteering, keep it on. When I finished my time today, I cut my wrist band off and we taped it onto my husband's wrist so he could get in. Ridiculous? Hell yes.

[UPDATE 2:] And from another person:

I worked 10 hours today at the convention center with women evacuees to get clothing. It's astounding how many clothes have been donated. There's an overabundance of women's blouses and shirts available. And there's a total lack of sleepwear available. Second in unfulfilled demand is very large women's sizes, especially in pants and shorts. If you're still wanting to donate something, you might want to consider this.


Blogger Sandia Blanca said...

I've been working at the Donation Center on Ed Bluestein for a few hours every day.

Someone today brought 30-40 brand-new women's nightgowns in large sizes-- these should have been put on the truck to go straight to the Convention Center. All new items and urgent needs (e.g. wheelchairs, crutches, diapers, toiletries, new underwear, etc.) were moved to the front of the line.

The majority of donated items are used, and so have to go through sorting and cleaning processes-- apparently the Salvation Army and/or Goodwill are processing these.

At one point today, a family of four refugees came directly to the Donation Center, and one of the City workers coordinated a direct fulfillment of bedding, clothing, toiletries, etc. I'm not sure how they got there, but it was great to see immediate recipients get what they needed.

Someone who has a volunteer wristband for the Convention Center could go to the Donation Center (open every day this week from 9:00 to 5:00) and ask one of the City or Parks & Recreation workers there to help locate books, toys, and men's clothing-- lots and lots of all of these have been donated.

8:46 PM  
Blogger roses said...

Thanks, sandia! I made a note at the start of the post, directing readers to your comment. It's really important to know that many of the needed items have already been donated, but there is an urgent need for sorting them.

9:16 PM  
Blogger roses said...

In case anyone's wondering, I added the feature of word verification for posting comments because numerous automated spam comments started appearing, and I was having to delete them manually.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Othniel said...

Some of theseeople are freezing in the air conditioning and I have personally taken in warm clothes. WHy are warmer clothes not getting through - blankets are?

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warmer clothes are there but people aren't taking those right now. They don't have anywhere to put things yet, so are only taking what they need right now. All those warmer clothes I sorted through are still there, just moved aside so they could find what they wanted.

5:25 AM  
Blogger roses said...

Othniel, I keep reading that everyone should donate summer clothes only. From anonymous's post, it sounds like the message needs to get to someone (who??) to make the warmer clothes more accessible if they are already present at the convention center.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Sandia Blanca said...

Warmer clothes are in abundant supply at Freescale-- sweaters, jackets, etc.

The comment about not having any place to put things reminds me to mention that a fair number of duffel bags and other luggage have been donated. Again, if someone has a connection with someone at the City (Farhad Madani is running the Center-- anyone know him?), we could probably go in and collect specific items for them.

I tend to agree with Robert that it may not be advisable to take people in there-- in part because the amount of stuff is overwhelming (although I haven't been there today, so I hope the sorters have reduced the mountains somewhat). Another consideration is that it's a parking garage, and kind of depressing looking (although it is open on the sides, so lots of fresh air comes through). A better strategy would be to grab three or four people to go in with detailed lists and some boxes or bins.

9:45 PM  

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