Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Local hurricane relief effort aims at Baldwin’s own

September 29, 2005

Baldwin City's efforts to help with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina are continuing on several fronts. It is still unknown whether a refugee family or families may come to the city. And, there might be a Baldwin tie.

Dexter and Donna Gratts' daughter, Shani, was living in New Orleans. She was moved to Houston. She's also expecting a baby any day and the doctors have said not to move her.

"As parents, we were pushing to get her up here and out of there," Dexter Gratts said Wednesday morning. "But, after listening to the doctors and thinking about it, we realize she's better off staying put. They have an apartment, food and comfort. There are about 15 members of his family there, so she's better off staying put.

"After the baby is born, we'll see," he said.

Still, the Baldwin relief effort is involved there.

The Baldwin City Hurricane Relief Fund's board of directors met for the first time last week. Board members are Ken Wagner, Blaine Cone, Kathy Gerstner, State Rep. Tom Holland, Pam Morrison, Tony Brown and Robin Bayer. Wagner was elected president, Gerstner vice president, Cone treasurer and Bayer secretary.

They were made aware of the Gratts' family situation and arrangements are being made to help out.

"Pam Morrison (pastor of the First United Methodist Church) has spoken with Dexter and assured him that as a community we want to do whatever we can to help," said Diane Wagner, a spokesperson for the fund. "We will stay on top of this situation and do what we can to help on of Baldwin's own."

Wagner said Donna Curran has been in contact with the family.

"They have an apartment, but little else," said Wagner. "Donna is spearheading a group -- primarily through the First United Methodist Church -- to get furniture, toys, etc. taken down to them in Texas," she said.

Fund-raising efforts by the group also continue. Erin Marie Jansen, Emma Cook and Ann Wallsmith collected money at the recent Art Walk.

"These young ladies felt strongly they wanted to do something to help and called asking if they could do this," Wagner said. "It's great to see such compassion among the youth of Baldwin City. They raised $117.02."

The relief fund has a goal of raising $15,000 to help with hurricane relief. An account has been opened at Baldwin State Bank where donations can be left.

Also, the fund now has a Web site at

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