Katrina evacs love canteen - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Katrina evacs love canteen

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September 12, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- When Sandra Billingsley goes shopping now, it's not at a regular store. "I didn't have to pay for a thing, just show my ID. They even give you a voucher for cash," she says.

Billingsley is shopping at a new Red Cross canteen in Thomasville. It's for victims of Hurricane Katrina. "She [Canteen director] told me to get a month's worth and come back as many times as needed," says Billingsley.

That's an invitation Billingsley accepts. She just returned home to South Georgia after Katrina ruined her start in New Orleans. "It's hard, but it's just a blessing to be here," says Billingsley.

The canteen is serving 67 families in the region, a number that changes daily. "We have been increasing our caseload by about 13 families a day," says Melinda Friddell, Executive Director of the American Red Cross' Wiregrass Chapter.

Those families need to use what money they have left to return to normalcy. "We don't want them to have to use their money for things that we can provide them at no charge, like water, and soda, and canned goods, and toiletry items, cleaning supplies," says Friddell.

Each of those items evacuees are welcome to as long as they're in town registered with the Red Cross. "We'd start a file. It takes all of ten minutes," says Friddell.

Just minutes for peace of mind that evacuees need to concentrate on more pressing matters. "Being here with my two children and my mom, that's all that matters," says Billingsley. Especially because the Red Cross also provides lump sum assistance to families.

If you'd like to donate to the canteen, you can call (229) 226-2181. It needs diapers and cleaning supplies the most.

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