Helping the Kids of Katrina
Hurricane Katrina is the single worst natural disaster ever to hit the U.S., and the massive hardships it has created for hundreds of thousands of children and their families is unspeakable.
While hundreds of thousands in the Gulf Coast region have lost their homes and jobs – whole communities have been demolished. Families face months and years of uncertainty as they cope with the reality of this crisis.
Child abuse and family violence shelters in the affected areas were closed as well. Some children who were recently placed for adoption in these areas are also missing.
Child victims are severely affected in the aftermath of Katrina and their needs must be met with priority.
Workers in Houston report that over 500 children are missing. According to Houston CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin, if the parents can't be located within a reasonable period of time, the children are placed in foster homes by Child Protective Services until they can be reunited.
The reality is that some children may be orphaned. And we don’t yet know exactly how many.
For the children in shelters, they can benefit immensely from structured activities that will keep them safe and busy – and allow them to process what they’ve experienced. This gives them the chance to talk about what happened, to act out their experiences and draw pictures about what they have gone through. This can also help caregivers identify children who are especially troubled and in need of additional attention and help.
For adults who reside in areas where victims are being sheltered, if you see a child aimlessly walking around, call the police immediately.
Parents who are victims are feeling a variety of emotions. While some are still in shock, others are at the end of their rope with fear and very frayed nerves. This is a time when parents can lose their tempers and take it out on children.
Parents in this situation should seek help from volunteers in the shelter immediately. By explaining that you need a break from your children will help you regroup and keep your children protected.
When Hurricane Andrew devastated parts of Florida in 1992, there was an increase in child and family violence.
It is critical for families to remember that love and nurturing are key. Children are just children and in times of disaster they are going to be frightened, cranky, disoriented and sense your fear and overwhelm.
The best thing parents can do is:
•Take a deep breath... and another, and another, and another. Then remember you are the adult – even though you yourself are in overwhelm.
•Close your eyes and imagine you're hearing what your child is about to hear.
•Press your lips together and count to 10... counting to 20 is even better.
•Put your child in a time-out corner. Even in a shelter, you can put your child in a corner of the facility and stand closeby so they are not alone. (one time-out minute for each year of age.)
•If you’re in a shelter, ask a volunteer or someone you’ve made friends with to watch your children for a few minutes while you go outside and take a walk.
•Splash cold water on your face.
•Hug a pillow. If it gets really bad - punch the pillow.
•When you are more permanently, contact Love Our Children USA for parenting materials that will help you. Once you have access to a computer, visit www.loveourchildrenusa.org for more information.
•If you are in a crisis mode – get to a hospital immediately.
Love Our Children USA is a 501(C)(3)nonprofit organization collecting donations for the children from the hardest hit areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The oranization will also make calls on behalf of families whose children under the age of 18 are lost/missing. 100% of all tax-deductible donations collected on their behalf will go to these children to provide them with safe shelter, food, clothing and educational and play materials, as their families recover from this devastating event. We are gratefully accepting donations to help them.
At the current time we are only accepting cash donations as our offices cannot accommodate the amount of goods that are generously being donated. Many have contacted us to find out where to send goods. We can provide lists of shelters to send items to directly however, please note some shelters need different items and may not accept others. Therefore 100% of your tax-deductible cash donation is preferred because it will go directly for what is needed for the children.
Please send to our mailing address at Love Our Children USA, 220 East 57th Street 9th Floor Suite G, New York , NY 10022-2820.
Checks should be made payable to Love Our Children USA and write “Kids of Katrina Fund” in the memo section or donate securely online by clicking here
Other charities that are accepting donations include:
-- America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s largest charitable hunger-relief organization, is focusing on hurricane relief in the areas affected by Katrina. www.secondharvest.org
-- Habitat for Humanity International has announced an emergency appeal for funds to help Habitat families and other low-income families in the affected areas recover and rebuild. http://www.habitat.org//
-- Operation USA is responding to Katrina’s damage to community-based nonprofit health care clinics in both urban and rural areas of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. http://www.opusa.org/