BURLINGTON - Hurricane Katrina's one-year anniversary has come and gone, but benefit organizers are still asking Vermonters to send help to the storm's survivors.
Burlington's newly organized Moss Point Sister City Committee is sponsoring a food and clothing drive in Battery Park on Saturday, October 14, Co-Directors Dick Hibbert and Allen Robinson announced at a press conference October 6. The committee is asking Vermonters to donate non-perishable food items, light jackets and blankets to Moss Point residents.
Hibbert, pastor of Burlington's First United Methodist Church, stressed that the drive is part of Burlington's ongoing commitment to the Mississippi city. "Those of us who have gone to Moss Point recognize that this is a long-term need," he said.
Burlington Police Chief Tom Tremblay also addressed reporters. Local police and firefighters will be helping to load a truck bound for Moss Point; Barrett Trucking Co. is donating the truck and a driver.
The Burlington-based African-American group UMEUS - short for You, Me, Us - first suggested the drive, which will benefit residents of Moss Point's impoverished East Side. Three UMEUS members, including Robinson, joined the sister-city committee in August.
The African-American activists have been critical of the way the city's Moss Point funds have been distributed, but Robinson told reporters he'll be flying to Mississippi to meet the relief truck at a newly constructed recreational center on Tuesday, October 17, to be sure the goods get to those who have the greatest need.
Committee members will speak about Burlington's ongoing relationship with Moss Point at 6:30 on Friday, October 13, at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery in the Flynn Center. The talk precedes a performance by the New Orleans-based Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
That same night, two former New Orleans poets are hosting a benefit at the Sara Holbrook Center on North Avenue. Mac Finely and Tara Pfeiffer-Norell will read at a fundraiser for the Abeona House, a New Orleans childcare center.
In August, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that a lack of available daycare is hampering New Orleans' economic recovery; the city lost 80 percent of its childcare programs since Katrina. The Abeona House, which opened last month, is a parent-organized nonprofit.
Pfeiffer-Norell, who moved to Burlington from New Orleans a year before the hurricane, says she was motivated to pitch in because the Abeona House will replace the daycare her two sons once attended. "It's been a real struggle for them," she says of the center.
Finally, on October 20, Burlington-based design firm Jager Di Paola Kemp hosts its second annual "Art Helps" art auction, to benefit the New Orleans-area Habitat for Humanity. Last year, JDK raised $12,000 for the organization. No word yet on whether Habitat will be the beneficiary in 2007, but given the pace of rebuilding efforts, it's safe to say they could still use the money.
Abeona House Benefit, Friday, October 13, 7-9 p.m., Sara Holbrook Center, Burlington, $2, donations encouraged. Info, 864-8188.
Moss Point Food and Clothing Drive, Saturday, October 14, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Battery Park, Burlington. Info, 864-2631.
Art Helps auction, Friday, October 20, 5-9 p.m., Sanctuary Artsite Gallery, JDK, Burlington. Info, 864-5884.