In order to deal with the possible influx of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, the small middle Mississippi town formed a community wide non-profit group called Winston Relief. After attending one of the preliminary meetings in August, sixteen year old Nathan Calvert noted that nothing specifically was being done locally for children who were forced to evacuate. After brainstorming, Nathan and a friend decided to check with the Winston Relief board of directors and start Winston Relief-kids.
The purpose of the project was to provide goody bags full of activities and toys for children who arrived in our area because Nathan was concerned for those children who did not have their favorite books and toys. The community was concerned that evacuees would reach our area quickly, so he worked swiftly, within one week span of time. He contacted a local radio program, local website, and churches in the town about the need for donations. Drop boxes were positioned in down-town businesses for people to place their donations. Nathan was overwhelmed by the community response. In fact, he stated that the hardest part of the entire project was dealing with the sheer number of items that were donated. Over 150 goody bags containing small toys, crayons, books, markers, etc. were assembled and distributed locally and on the Mississippi gulf coast.
Because of Nathan's interest in those affected by the hurricane, his family, along with fellow church members, made a trip to the Mississippi gulf coast in January to assist in the clean-up effort. When he returned to school, Nathan was invited to speak to a February meeting of a biology club about his experiences on the coast and about the possible health implications of the hurricane.
Hopefully this project had a positive impact on each child who received a bag. It certainly impacted Nathan. He improved his organizational and communication skills and learned some important life lessons. He has said that this community involvement has taught him that people want to help during a disaster; they just need someone to show them how to assist. He has also stated how happy he is to live in an area full of such concerned, generous people.