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Mercer Island donors come to the rescue

Island donors benefit from direct links

Efforts to help people effected by natural disasters continue on Mercer Island. Many drives are still underway in the community. Here is a brief sample of events organized by Islanders who have worked to get aid to people in need as efficiently as possible through direct links to affected areas.

Pakistan earthquake

Mercer Island's Fred Mednick, the president of Teachers Without Borders, is coordinating a collection for victims of the recent earthquake in Pakistan. From Tuesday, Oct. 25 through Saturday, October 29, donations can be dropped off at the Mercer Island Post Office.

He is asking for items that will help people through the upcoming winter. Tents, blankets, sleeping bags, coats, hats, strong shoes and warm socks would be helpful. Supplies such as bandages, sanitary napkins, toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap are also needed.

Teachers Without Borders will ship goods through its partner organization outside of Islamabad free of charge with the support of the Mercer Island Post Office, Mercer Island Rotary, the school district and several downtown businesses.

Louisiana schools

Mercer Island resident and Louisiana native Shelly Shay was so encouraged by the success of the children's book drive she organized at Island Books on Oct. 11, she has initiated two more programs to help out the ailing residents of her hometown of Slidell.

Island Park Elementary School will adopt the Bonne Ecole Elementary School in Slidell, where Shay said over 85 percent of the homes were severely damaged and 50 percent were completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

``The wind and the water damage are so great, it's hard to wrap your brain around,'' Shay said.

Bonne Ecole, Shay explained, has absorbed huge student populations from New Orleans. Meanwhile, the school's teachers are living in trailers outside of their flooded homes.

``Their personal challenges are great, yet these educators have returned with a singular goal: providing an education and sense of normalcy to their students who have lost so much,'' Shay wrote.

Like the book drive, which put 700 books directly into the hands of Slidell children, the elementary school partnership aims to establish a direct flow of letter writing, fund raising and other support.

The first fundraising event is a Jump-a-Thon on October 27, sponsored by the Island Park Student Council. Islanders can bring pledges to Island Park Elementary School, with checks payable to the Mercer Island School District. All money will go directly to Bonne Ecole.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, Shay has also organized a ``Day of Giving.'' Shoes, clothing, sports equipment, school polo shirts in red, hunter green and navy, and books appropriate for a school library can be brought to Island Park Elementary School.

The items and sizes are for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. They don't need to be fancy, Shay says, but should be new or like new. Trucks will be coming to transport the goods directly to Slidell.

Gulf Coast police

The Mercer Island Police Department is also establishing a direct corridor to hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast.

Local law enforcement agencies are reaching out to the children of police and firefighters in the affected areas, who have not only lost everything but have also been separated from parents who are occupied with helping other victims.

``There's so many people hurting, but the police officer families have been left out a little. It's a huge need,'' said Lauri Herrera, a police records specialist who is helping to organize the drive.

Several individuals on the local police force have volunteered to lead the efforts. ``This is one of the fastest responses I've seen in quite a while to step up and do this kind of thing,'' Mercer Island Public Safety Director Ron Elsoe said of his officers and employees.

The police department is asking for baby formula, diapers, toys, children's clothing, books and school supplies. All items must be new. Officials are working on a direct mode of transporting donations to the Gulf Coast that may involve the Coast Guard or other federal and state agencies.

From now until Nov. 7, donations to Operation Heroes' Children may be brought to the Police Department records office behind City Hall Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 to 1 p.m.

Cocktails with Six Walls

Six Walls wants to make donating fun with a cocktail party on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mercerwood Shoreclub. The interior design store is hosting an evening of dancing, cocktails and silent auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity in its efforts to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Tickets, which cost $100 per person or $175 per couple, include hors d'oevres, two drinks and entertainment. They can be bought either in person at Six Walls, on the store's Web site or by phone. Cocktail dresses and poker faces are appropriate attire, as the evening also includes rounds of Texas Hold `Em Poker.

Earthquake

Warmth Without Borders

Tuesday, Oct. 25 -- Saturday, Oct. 29

- Checks:

Teachers Without Borders

2880 74th Ave. S.E.

Mercer Island, WA 98040

Please write ``Pakistan Earthquake Relief'' in memo section.

- Donations:

Mercer Island Post Office

3040 78th Ave. S.E.

More info: Dr. Fred Mednick

206.230.8126

fred@teacherswithoutborders.org

Hurricane

Day of Giving

Saturday, Nov. 19 10 a.m.

Island Park Elementary School

5437 Island Crest Way, Mercer Island

More info: Shelly Shay 206.275.2297

Operation Heroes' Children

Now through Monday, Nov. 7

Mercer Island Police Department

9611 S.E. 36th Street

More info: george.vince@dhs.gov or rachel.ealywilliams@dhs.gov

Six Walls

Cocktail party

Friday, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m.

7687 S.E. 27th St, Mercer Island

206.275.3399

www.six-walls.com

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