THOMASVILLE -- The victims forced from their homes because of Hurricane Katrina are more than casualties and nameless faces Thomasville citizens have followed daily in the newspaper, on TV and on the radio.

They are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who some of this city's residents wish to reach on a personal level.

A group of local volunteers have been calling, e-mailing and mass canvassing the city in efforts to unite Thomasville citizens.

They want local residents to donate new household items to pack boxes. The boxes will go inside 1,000 mobile homes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has asked Stewart Park Homes of Thomasville to build for displaced hurricane victims.

The homes will be driven over to damaged areas (specific sites are currently unknown).

One volunteer, Suzette Davis, said the idea for the Thomasville Katrina Project began when local students were challenged by their teacher to come up with a way to help hurricane victims.

Hollan Davis and McKenzie Martin are two of the students.

"The girls jumped on board very excitedly," Davis said.

Davis said the volunteers are asking people who wish to donate items to consider including a personal letter of encouragement to the family that will receive the goods.

Drawings from children and cards are also encouraged.

"What we want to do is, we want to send them a letter to let them know we see them as real people," Davis said, "and to let them know that there's a community that's caring for them and for people to tell them we love them and that we're praying for them."

Wade Miller, with the Community Foundation, is also volunteering to organize the project.

"It's not any one group or organization that is doing this," he said of the Thomasville Katrina Project.

Miller said the project is intended to be a community project that comprises help from churches, organizations and individuals throughout this area.

Maggie Clifton, who is helping recruit churches to drop off donations, said about 20 churches in the Thomasville area as well as Mitchell County have already pledged interest in the project.

Collections for the Thomasville Katrina Project may be dropped off only on the Saturdays through Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or today or Sept. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The project's collection drop-off site is the former Coats America building at 1100 Smith Ave., across from Cherokee Lake.

Meanwhile, as donations come in, volunteers will pack boxes to go inside the mobile homes FEMA has ordered. About seven boxes of household items will go inside the homes.

For more information about donating items for the Thomasville Katrina Project, call Laura Williams at 558-9271 or Davis at 859-9059.

For information about how your church or organization can adopt a trailer and fill it with household items, call Clifton at 228-5473.

For information about volunteering your time at the drop off site's temporary warehouse or to box items, call Jill Miller at 226-5703.

Additional information can be found online at www.ThomasvilleKatrinaProject.org.



To reach reporter Blenda Link, call 226-2400, ext. 227.

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