Soldiers and volunteers from all over the country are helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. And two of those lending their hands to the relief efforts serve as both soldiers and volunteers. We spoke with them this morning at the American Red Cross.
Spc. Atronda Lipscomb, who works in the dental unit at Fort Stewart, has family in New Orleans. "My mother is there and I believe she lost her home and everything," she said. "So that's why I want to go down there and help."
She knew she wanted to help, and her sergeant is making sure she won't be going alone. When Red Cross volunteers move in to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, they'll be taking two of the Army's own, Spc. Lipscomb and Staff Sgt. Likeithia Williams.
"She said, 'Sgt. Williams, my family, they're down there and they're suffering,'" Staff Sgt. Williams said. "And so, I'll do whatever it takes just to help it out."
At times, the pictures from New Orleans are too much for Lipscomb. Her mother evacuated, but she has no idea where the rest of her family is. "I've got aunties, cousins, grandma, friends," she said. "It's hitting me really hard. I even have family in Mississippi, too."
Both women are taking three weeks of their own leave time to volunteer with the Red Cross. They'll spend that time in New Orleans passing out food, water, and helping people find shelter.
"Just do anything I possibly can," said Spc. Lipscomb. "Hopefully, see someone I know. Just to make them feel better. Give them a hug or some food. anything."
Red Cross volunteers often work side by side with the military in disaster situations, providing comfort and aid, but you can imagine their surprise that two would join their own ranks.
American Red Cross director of volunteer services Geraldine McKinley said, "It was just phenomenal that they would take that time when they could be doing so many other things."
The Red Cross has a waiting list for volunteers who want to help in New Orleans. They all have to go through a three-day training session and commit to spending three weeks in New Orleans. If that's too much of a time commitment for you, the Red Cross has lots of other volunteer opportunities.
To lean more, visit the Hurricane Katrina Relief Information Center.