SIKESTON - Residents are coming to the aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina who are making Sikeston and Miner their temporary homes.
Now efforts are being expanded to provide relief for these refugees from Louisiana, Mississippi and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast who are here.
Members of the First United Methodist Church began efforts Monday, as they watched broadcasts of the devastation and people fleeing their homes. Learning about the visitors, they took them sandwiches and agreed to provide more meals. By Wednesday the number they were feeding grew to around 50.
But Kendall Elledge said it isn't so much a church effort as a community effort to come to the aid of the visitors. Working with Mission Missouri and a number of other organizations and churches, lunch was provided today and dinner will be served at the church today and Friday from 5:30-7 p.m.
"This is really a community effort," said Elledge, ticking off the donations - ranging from cash to food to a cell phone - already received.
"The biggest needs we have found is gasoline -- a lot of these people can't access their bank accounts," she said. Others have needed medical care or access to the Internet to contact family and friends and sometimes it is something as simple as a teddy bear given to comfort a small child, she said.
"I can't tell you how wonderful the area churches, area businesses, individuals have been," she added.
By pooling resources and coordinating efforts the volunteers hope to better meet the needs of the refugees.
In the initial meeting Wednesday night it was decided there was a need for a central place to house the relief efforts. The building would require a meeting room, some storage capability and a place to provide a meal. Also it would need to be in a central location and secured for weeks since the duration of the evacuation is still unknown.
A building to house the relief efforts "could be used as a daily meeting place for these folks to get information, get assistance, find out information about how to go back home, etc. and get an evening meal," organizers said.
The building would be staffed by volunteers, and already area churches have volunteered to rotate the meal schedule.
Another meeting is planned for 5:30 p.m. today at the First United Methodist Church, 1307 N. Main St. Other topics to be discussed include a communitywide effort to donate things and whether to send teams of volunteers to help with relief efforts.
The United Methodist church is collecting monetary donations for gas and donations of clothing and diapers. Those who would like to help or make a donation please contact Jill Hopson at 471-1466 and Kendall Elledge at 471
-1919 or at the church at 471-3283.
The doctors at Ferguson Medical Group are offering medical services to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Those in need can contact Megan Looney or Christy O'Neal at 471-0330.
Dr. Karen Lee, psychologist, is offering counseling service to victims. She can be contacted at 472-2004.
Also the Bootheel Counseling Service is offering counseling services. The phone number is 471-0800.
Those in need of assistance can also contact the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce at 472-2498, which has compiled a list of resources.
Out-of-town residents should contact their own Chamber of Commerce or Ministerial Alliance for ways to help.