Can we do more to help victims of hurricanes?

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005

As Alaskans waited to hear the amount of their annual permanent fund dividend, 3,469 miles away, people were still waiting to hear if their loved ones are alive and safe.

The dividend check is looked upon by many as an annual rite of passage for those who “tough it out” and make it through another Alaska winter, but the truth is making it from fall to spring is nothing compared to what’s happened to people in New Orleans.

When you see the images, day after day — in our paper, on your television — those are the people who are suffering from lack of food, shelter, loss of family, friends and dignity.

Unless you have been through it, it’s difficult to imagine what it is like.

While some of us are trying to figure out what to do with our $845.76 checks, vacation or luxury, 214,000 people have filed for benefits with the government because they are out of work due to Katrina. Some private economists are predicting that a half million people or more will have lost jobs when Katrina’s final economic toll is added up.

That’s not to say many Alaskans don’t spend their windfall wisely. In fact, many have invested checks in their and their children’s future or given funds to organizations such as the Red Cross.

This year’s dividend figure may be among the bottom eight and the fifth year in a row the amount has dropped, but it’s still money that didn’t exist in our pockets before, and we have an opportunity to make it count.

In today’s Clarion, there are many ways listed to help by contacting agencies and churches committed to making a difference in the lives of those who are suffering from this latest tragedy here in our own country.

Now, on the heels of Katrina, Hurricane Rita is roaring up the Gulf Coast and is expected to make landfall late today.

There’s more work that needs to be done, more giving, more collecting, more contributing to the cause to help others feel a little more fortunate.

Rita isn’t only taking aim on Texas, her affects will be felt in New Orleans — yet another blow to the devastated city.

We have choices. We can watch and be immune or we can watch and get involved.

Fortunately, there are those on the Kenai Peninsula who are good at getting involved. Some fund-raisers already have been held, some projects are ongoing and, no doubt, other events are in the works.

In an effort to reach out to our fellow Americans, drop some change in the jar. Donate a blanket, clothing or toys. Write a check. Give blood. Everything helps and, together, we can make a difference.

Here are places to contact on the central peninsula:

· Abundant Life Assembly of God in Sterling at 262-7266

· Sterling Lutheran Church at 262-9259

· Soldotna Church of God at 262-4729

· Soldotna Bible Chapel at 262-4865

· Peninsula Grace Brethren Church on K-Beach Road at 262-6442

· Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, Kenai at 283-4555

· New Life Assembly, Kenai, at 283-7752

· Church of the Nazarene, Nikiski, at 252-5773

· Lighthouse Community Church, N. Kenai, at 776-8234

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