Hurricane Gustav hit the coast of Louisiana with category 3 winds in excess of 120 mph, pouring rain of possibly 12″, flooding local rivers and testing newly constructed levees. Although it did not appear to be “the big one”, it certainly wrecked havoc with the lives of those living in it’s path. Shelters from New Orleans to Baton Ruge to Ruston to Houston were full to overflowing with the approximately 2 million people leaving the vulnerable coast. The national Hugs office in NY and three local Hugs chapters, stepped up to provide hundreds upon hundreds of teddies for shelters in need. Jakki Hatchett, the leader of “Jacob’s Hugs” in Minden, Louisiana, took the chapter bears as well as National’s bears to shelters in Shreveport, Joni Mabry of “Lagniappe Hugs” ( a Creole word meaning, “a little extra” ) in Ruston, Louisiana took her several hundred teddies to Trinity Church, Emmanuel Church shelter and the Civic Center of Ruston where shelters were readied, and Ted Church, of the Woodmen of the World Disaster Team, in Conyers, Georgia, added teddies to the disaster team trucks as they rode to the hardest hit areas of the storm. Though we are learning to prepare more effectively for hurricanes, we can not make the fear just go away …and in the eyes of a child, a welcoming teddy hug, makes the difference. Waiting for a bed in a safe shelter while the storm rages, can be a scarey thing for the whole family. A huge “thank you” to all those who helped this volunteer effort!
Joni Mabry makes sure that the kids at Emmanuel Baptist Church shelter have a special teddy to hug while their cots are readied.