Published February 2, 2006
Catholic Charities of the Atlanta Archdiocese is continuing to collect used furniture in good condition for Hurricane Katrina evacuees moving out of hotels and into apartments, many of whom have no household items and are in desperate need.
Secretary for Catholic Charities Joe Krygiel said that about 3,000 households are still in hotels with a Feb. 7 cutoff date for receiving funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “There’s a tremendous need because people are going into apartments without any furniture, and anything we can do will make a difference.”
Catholic Charities is working in partnership with other churches and nonprofit organizations through the Regional Council of Churches and its “Standing Together” coalition. So far Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services, of which it is a part, have provided various forms of assistance including financial and resettlement support to over 1,500 households. “We’re part of a coalition and are combining our efforts to the overall relief effort,” Krygiel said.
To date Catholic Charities has assisted about 40 households by either partially or fully furnishing their new homes, according to Bobbie Friel, executive assistant for Catholic Charities. Her phone rings continually with the caller ID repeatedly revealing a 504 area code for New Orleans.
“Many have absolutely nothing when they get to their apartments. Some of them were sleeping on the floor,” she said. “The need is tremendous … I get as many as 25-30 calls a day. When somebody calls with furniture, I get it given away within a day. I have well over 100 calls that have not been returned because I can’t get them returned fast enough … Everybody needs furniture.”
She said many of those served don’t have jobs yet and are very poor. She recalled one elderly woman grateful that they were able to fully furnish her high-rise apartment, as she only had a bed.
Catholic Charities is collecting beds, mattresses (king, queen, full and twin sized), dressers, chests of drawers, sofas, chairs, coffee tables, end tables, dinette sets, night stands, working washers and dryers, dishes, silverware, linens, etc. Families with elderly people and with children are given priority with assistance.
Friel is also contacting churches with outreach programs to invite them to contribute to the drive and join their coordinated archdiocesan relief efforts. Krygiel said Catholic Charities also seeks parishes to sponsor evacuee families to help them with various means of ongoing support, such as transportation, as they move out of hotels and into more permanent homes and try to settle themselves in Atlanta.
“As the furniture drive proceeds there will be interest generated in parishes…(I hope) they will want to continue to stay involved with the families,” Krygiel said.
Those who want to donate should call Friel at (404) 885-7212 for information or to schedule a time to have their donations picked up by a moving company.