New Orleans needs still ‘great’

It’s hard to tell if Terry Caplan is more concerned about his friends in New Orleans whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina whom he hasn’t heard from recently, or the friend who has been e-mailing him and is living in the attic of a two-story apartment building still without power.

Caplan, owner of Island Hardware in Princeville Shopping Center, is increasingly distressed over the tone of the e-mails he receives from his friend, and fears his friend may be reaching the end of his hopefulness.

“The hugeness (of the scope of damage) is just so overwhelming,” said Caplan, who has serious concerns about the area’s ability to ever fully recover from the tragedy.

But it was not specifically for his friends that he hastily put together a fund-raiser for Katrina victims in September, vowing in a full-page ad in The Garden Island and through radio spots to donate 3 percent of all that month’s sales to The Salvation Army for Katrina victims.

Wednesday, he delivered the oversized check for $6,027.44 to Capt. Mitham Clement of the Lihu’e Corps of The Salvation Army.

The funds are already speeding their way to New Orleans, where The Salvation Army staff and volunteers continue to operate 150 mobile-feeding units and 11 field kitchens serving 20,000 hot meals a day to victims, Clement said.

Caplan, who held a similar fund-raiser in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, acted quickly to put together the fundraiser for Katrina victims, knowing the need was immediate and great, because, “I just thought it was appropriate to do what I did.”

The donation to The Salvation Army was also to ensure that the money goes directly to those who need it most, the victims, and not chief executive officers or administrative costs, Caplan commented.

During the month-long sale, Kaua’i visitors from Louisiana heard of the effort, and told their friends and family members back home about the fund-raiser, Caplan added.

He encourages others to give what they can, because the needs are still great, and to recall when folks on Kaua’i were in the same situation as those in and around New Orleans now.

“It’s important to not forget (Hurricane) ‘Iniki in 1992,” and how people in other parts of the country responded to Kauaians in need, he said.

Caplan canceled all regular advertising when he announced through the newspaper and radio that his fund-raiser was on.

“It is the least we could do. We should never forget those in need.”

As an added bonus, business picked up in September, usually a slow month, he said. “It stirred up business,” he noted.

“It was very generous of him doing that for us,” said Clement, adding that funds are still being accepted for Katrina-relief efforts, “to help those folks who are still struggling.”

The needs in and around New Orleans are still critical, and The Salvation Army officers and volunteers will remain on the scene until everyone’s life has returned to normal, he continued.

“The need is still great.” The Salvation Army officers and volunteers have distributed three million hot meals, over five million sandwiches, snacks and drinks, and won’t leave as long as there is a need, he said.

“Kaua’i has been very, very generous to the victims of the hurricanes, Katrina and Rita,” said Clement, noting that workers at Wal-Mart collected funds for The Salvation Army, and Bank of Hawaii leaders came through with checks for victims.

There have been “very generous individuals” on Kaua’i, and all the donations are appreciated, Clement said.

While thoughts, prayers and money are on the hurricane victims, the needs of those on Kaua’i still need to be met on a daily basis, he concluded.

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