ODJFS employees brighten Christmas for Katrina victims

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

In this busy season when people scramble to pick up gifts for loved ones, the employees of a government organization and members of a local church are taking time to give to strangers: Survivors of the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history.

The employees of the Lawrence County Department and Jobs and Family Services and the members of Woodland Chapel Church collected $4,375 to give to victims of Hurricane Katrina, but they wanted to make sure their money got to those who needed it most.

That’s when DJFS director Buddy Martin and his employees hit on the idea of sending the money to their Louisiana counterpart.

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“We though about it a while, and came up with this idea. Why not send it to the human services department down there?’” Martin said. “That’s what we do here, if we have a flood in the county, whatever money we come up with, we’re a point of contact for those people.

“The idea was to ship it to somebody right there in the neighborhood who knows what the needs are.”

Martin sent the check to the Regional Administrative Office of Family Support in Baton Rouge on Monday.

Martin said he expects the money will be spent to aid seniors who are often overlooked in similar recovery efforts.

“There’s generally help that you can get for families that have a child, but when you’re talking about elderly and Medicare recipients, you’re talking about ‘La-La Land’ in terms of getting any money to help those folks out,” Martin said. “There’s no program that really hits on that to help them out.

Although it will be up to the Baton Rouge agency to decide how to specifically spend the funding, Martin said that there’s a possibility that it could be used to obtain even more money to help Katrina victims.

“The nice thing about money like this is, that it is eligible money to match other programs, if they required a match,” Martin said. “Say you had a 33 percent match on something, that $4,000 became $12,000.”

No matter what the money is spent on, Martin said he couldn’t be more pleased with his employees’ generosity.

“I’m proud as all get out of them,” he said.