Caravan4Christmas

Bringing joy this Christmas to the children most affected by hurricane Katrina through the charitable donation of gifts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Website

Steven has done a wonderful job on our website and I urge you to check it out!

www.Caravan4Christmas.com

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Santa

From Nola.com:

But Schaubhut said the children's resilience is being stretched thin as the days have turned into weeks. "Dylan just about broke my heart the other day when he asked me, 'Does Santa Claus come to hotels?'" she said.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Logistical Nightmare

I never really knew what "logistical nightmare" meant until now. My gosh who would have ever thought this would be so difficult? What began with "I am willing to rent the largest truck I can find if you are willing to help me fill it" has turned into expedited 501(c)(3) status; Articles of Organization; tax forms; narrative descriptions; checking accounts; discrimination statements and anything else you can imagine taking the fun out of this! I realize that all of this work now is going to be instrumental in broadening our reach later, but part of me really wants to just load up my Explorer and go. Would that not be so much simpler?

I will admit that although I did not set out to, I am learning a lot about building an organization from the ground up. Becoming a 501(c)(3) Charitable organization is not as "simple" as filling out the twelve page tax form. Telling the IRS "I have a really big heart, very willing helpers and a great idea" does not legitimize this effort. Trust me, I tried it on the phone the other day. They want explanations of everything. They want dates, titles, signatures, organizing documents, narratives of fundraising activities, budgets and foreseeable expenses. Imagine that you decide to quit your job and pursue other work and you are asked to fill out your tax forms for NEXT year right now. Pretty hard to predict what you will be doing or how much you will make or spend when you do not yet know where life will take you. I'm just having to make all of this up and it is not a comfortable feeling to just make up numbers for a form going to the IRS.

Okay, enough about the weights bringing my mood down...let's talk about good things!

The Caravan Committee board members met last Sunday. I cannot tell you what an amazing group of women have come together to make this effort a reality. I knew I had great friends, but am honestly surprised at the commitment and enthusiasm in this group. We are going to make this amazing! I do want to note that there are a lot of amazing people working behind the scenes right now (who may or may not want to be mentioned on here.) We have people working on logos & other graphics, websites, events and more. I cannot wait to be able to "unveil" these things to you. You are going to be amazed at the talent of some of these volunteers.

We have also gotten verbal support and commitments from numerous other organizations who want to host toy drives or sponsor events. It's really amazing how many people are willing to step up and support you even before you have your tax ID number and your website. I guess when you have such an important cause, people are willing to help regardless. Not to mention, an alumni group watching an LSU football game is a great place to find support;-)

As expected, we have also met a few pockets of resistance here and there. We handled (and will continue to handle) these things with grace. This means, yelling and whining to my roommate, sending out an attitude-filled email to my board members, deciding to stand behind each other to support the mission, then putting on a happy face to respond in a tactful manner. We know what we are doing and why we are doing it. This will not change and we would much rather spend the next three months spreading joy then defending our position or fighting with those who don't agree with it. Done.

I feel the "business" side of this should be wrapped up pretty soon and my enthusiasm for the real cause behind all of this will return. I miss thinking about the children and how happy they will be and how many hugs we will get to give out. I miss thinking of how many mothers and fathers will feel a restored sense of faith in the American people when we help them bring Christmas to their children. I miss thinking of the hope and happiness this will bring to a saddened group of people. I hope to be able to focus on that again soon.

Thanks to all for your on-going support!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Thoughts on Our Special Project

Laura and I first discussed the aftermath of Katrina in our law school class. It was over some delicious Cajun food served with true Southern hospitality at her home later that week that Laura shared the idea for C4C with me.

What struck me about C4C is the opportunity to bring hope to the youngest victims of the disaster. In my memory, nothing is more special as a child than the promise of Christmas and the coming New Year. God willing, we are bringing Christmas & hope.

This Sunday, we all met together in person for the first time. I wish I could convey to all of you the spirit of love, commitment & energy that was at that meeting. I am truly touched & blessed by the opportunity to work with these amazing people. I also look forward to meeting & working with all of you on our special project. We need your support going forward. Let me thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Melissa Anagnosti

Monday, September 12, 2005

The beginning of something great...

My first blog, so here goes...

The beginning of something great stands by itself. Officially, as of last night I have become a part of wonderful group of ladies who have decided to put their heart and soul, whichever way we have individually been affected, in too helping those most effected by one of the most devastating natural disasters our country has ever been through. Lord only knows, we seem to face a lot these days. Does that scare me? Yes. Does that worry me? Yes. Does that make me fear the future? Yes. However, despite all these fears I have, I love God and I believe in God and believe there is a purpose for everything, bad and good.

The outreach and outpouring of help in the aftermath of HK is what shows me and allows me to believe that there will come a day after every day, especially the hard ones, that will wipe away the tears and leave room for a smile, a reason to believe, and a feeling of never faltering love. It is times like these where I sit back and think outside the realms of my everyday life and realize how without love nothing, absolutely nothing, can flourish. Love is what makes us get up everyday, live through everyday, and hope for another day. Love is what drives the girls and I to move our tushes down to the coast and literally hand that unfaltering love back into a child's heart and mind. They may not realize it now, nor remember all that has happened or will happen as time goes by, but they will carry it with them inside along the way. There is no question about that. I hate to say it but it's true.

It is the Caravan 4 Christmas's wish to hand to back to them wonderful memories, hopeful memories, and loving memories that represent the time "after all the heartbreak and tears." It is our decided duty to show these children that innocence still exists and will always exist, whether its through a toy or a hand that gives that toy away.

Innocence can and will always exist when love is around you! They are the foundations of our future and our children's future. If you agree, help by loving your family, your friends, you companions, your children, your acquaintances, and even the people you pass along the way. Live everyday of your life by giving all you can give....till it almost breaks you, even @ times when you just don't feel you've got it in you. As it is always said, what does not kill us will only make us stronger...ALWAYS.

So join the girls and I and help in our endeavors if you can. This can be our gift to ourselves. :-)

Olivia Suzanne

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mid-Week updates

Wanted to post a few quick updates.

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who has already stepped up to make this crazy dream a reality. I had numerous people coming forward to help before I had even considered how I am supposed to do this.

Special thanks to the wonderful people labeled "helpers" on the right side of this page who will be getting together with me this weekend to co-ordinate and lay the groundwork for this endeavor. We hope to be able to come back to you early next week with some solid plans and ways in which you can help or help spread the word.

Thanks also to the people in the blogosphere who have already begun to spread the word. We are going to set-up an actual website soon but will keep the blog up as well! Once we get the website up, I fully expect a link from ALL of you:-)

I cannot begin to explain how good it feels to be on this end and to feel like we are actually doing something that will truly make a difference in so many innocent young children's lives. This has put a smile on my face and is helping to alleviate some of the pains of being so far away. So, as a school friend said: Let's make Katie Couric cry!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Truck and Storage

This warms my heart. The more people I tell about this *crazy-hair-brained* idea of mine, the more people want to help out. I have recruited some wonderful people and think we will be ready to get this thing off the ground very soon:-) Once people (or organizations) offer to help out, I will add them to the list of "Helpers" on the right, with their permission, of course.

I think that the collecting of gifts part will be easy. Right now, the most difficult part will be securing a truck and a storage facility. A Penske alone will run about $2,000. While I am willing to pay for this, I think my money would be better spent at Toys-R-Us. If anyone has any connections or resources that would enable us to get a truck or storage facility in the Metropolitan Washington DC area, it would be a HUGE help. Once we have this in place, we will be ready to hit the ground running!

I have also heard from and contacted people in Louisiana who are willing to do some ground work there regarding the receiving and distributing of the gifts to the children. My mom heard from a friend whose church usually begins (about now) collecting gifts for under-priveleged children. As with many organizations down there right now, their resources are tapped. They are merely trying to take care of the sick and homeless in the streets right now and surely do not have the time or energy to think about Christmas. To that, I say: Ms. Jeannie, you just keep doing what you are doing and you let DC handle Christmas this year.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Dearest Friends,

In the aftermath of Katrina, I sit here with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes for my brothers and sisters down south. While my immediate family is safe and dry, times like this really make us realize just how far 'family' can extend. I watch the footage on TV and sift through the photographs online. By mileage, I am far removed from the destruction. By human nature and emotion, the devastation is all around me.

The hardest part of all of this for me, personally, is trying to get past the feelings of helplessness. I live in Washington DC and here, life is not stopping. People, myself included, are watching the TV and donating money, but for the most part, life as usual is expected. I am supposed to sit down and read cases in a law book for class while cities in my homestate are lying in ruins. This is not something I can do. I need to do more. The people back home deserve more than that from me. I realize I can donate money and help to make phone calls, but I really feel like my efforts could be put to better use. Writing a check is easy for me and will help take care of the immediate needs and hurt. At the same time, I am afraid we may not be looking far enough ahead to see the people that will still be hurting in a few months.

I have decided to co-ordinate an effort to give them what they truly need: the love and support of their fellow Americans. Thinking of all of the children that will still be homeless this Christmas breaks my heart. In their few years of life, these kids have already been through hell. In a matter of days, they lost homes, parents, loved ones, schools, playmates and basically life as they knew it. Any sense of stability and routine they had will take a long time to rebuild. I think we should start this by providing them with the best Christmas we can.

Instead of writing a check to one of the numerous charities, I intend to put my money to a different use. I am going to rent a truck and drive a "Caravan 4 Christmas" to those most affected by Hurricane Katrina. I am willing to rent the largest truck I can find if you are willing to help me fill it. If I can get people to help out and we can make this effort as big as possible, I firmly believe we will be able to make a difference this holiday season.

Logistically, this will most probably be an on-going effort but beginning with a truck, a storage unit, and people willing to help spread the word will be great. If anyone has resources to help out, please contact me! I will use this website as a way to coordinate efforts and could use all of the help I can get.

Sincerely,
Laura Bourgeois
Caravan4Christmas@gmail.com