MOULTRIE -- Trucks will be leaving Robert Hutson Ford Saturday morning bound for Ocean Springs, Miss., laden with basic survival essentials for storm victims there.

"We're accepting items at our location," said Hutson. "We'll get them there."

The dealership is located on Quitman Highway here in Moultrie.

Hutson said some of his workers will be driving the trucks to Mississippi after they learned that this community has not been able to receive any kind of significant help so far into the disaster recovery.

"We need just about everything you can imagine," said Hutson.

He gave the following list:

Coolers for ice, non-perishable food, pop-top food items such as Vienna sausages, Beanie-Weenies and juice boxes. Also, bread, peanut butter, paper goods such as towels, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic spoons. Other items needed include tooth paste, diapers, all sizes of clothes for children and adults, baby food, baby formula, socks, bug spray, sun screen, over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol and aspirin, household cleaning items, mops, brooms, blankets, rakes, gloves, tarps, air mattress, baby wipes, personal hygiene products, brushes, combs, Zip-Lock bags, flashlights and batteries, can openers, bottled water and garbage bags, etc.

"We just can fathom the destruction we're seeing out there," said Hutson.

Hutson said he was once on the coast when a hurricane hit and the power was cut off.

"We couldn't get water and had no public restroom facilities. I thought that was bad. Just imagine what these poor folks are going through," he said.

Hutson said he has room at his business to store the goods until they can be moved. He said a lot of people throughout the community are helping recruit these items.

Colquitt County Red Cross Executive Director Helen Sewell reiterated that the need now is cash. At this early stage of relief, the Red Cross does not have the capacity to handle a mass of donated items.

Sewell said the generosity of the community is wonderful, but managing donated items "just won't work right now."

"I had a lady just a minute ago, calling here crying, wanting to help. People are just so touched, and they're so caring," she said.

Training for American Red Cross disaster relief volunteers will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 and 20 at Lakeside Assembly for the ongoing relief effort. Sewell is asking those interested call ahead, so she can get class materials.

United Way of Colquitt County also emphasized the need for cash donations at this time. Donations can be made to the local chapter or online to the Hurricane Katrina Response Fund. All funds collected for this cause will go toward front-line disaster relief and long-term recovery needs.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their family members who are anxiously awaiting word or the whereabouts and safety of their loved ones. We encourage concerned community members who are able to help to donate cash or volunteer. We also want to remind people to continue to support the local community even after contributing to disaster relief. We are a generous community, and we want to help in any way we can -- both here and there," said Executive Director Angela Castellow.

A cash drive is underway at county schools. At Friday night's football game, cheerleaders will be collecting money for Katrina's victims.





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