Extending a helping hand

What many people refuse to believe, is true. Hurricane Katrina struck as one of the deadliest attacks unleashed by Mother Nature. Many people from the affected areas had to leave their home and head north. Despite all of the terror, southern hospitality reigned. The north end of La. opened its arms to the millions of people and gave them shelter, food, and comfort. As a result, friendships happened at Trinity United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, several of GSU’s Calendar Girls went to the church to spend time with some of the affected, which were children. They came in masses. All had open arms and all wanted to help. Instead of arriving to sad faces, the children were as lively as ever.

"I was expecting to see them being down, but they were pretty energetic," said a surprised Portia Taylor, Miss Cover Girl. "It felt really good to see that."

Some were playing basketball in the church’s gym. Others were in the game room playing ping-pong, pool, XBox, and Playstation 2. Others just sat around talking, striking up conversations as they came along. They were open to the Calendar Girls.

"It was ‘madd’ cool," said Mike Hillard, a junior in high school. "The people were real nice; everyone was madd cool."

"Madd" cool were the Calendar Girls as they played Halo 2 on XBox and EA Sports NCAA Football 2006 with several children. Miss February, Amber Johnson, decided to try her best at NCAA.

"I’ve only played NCAA Football 2003," she said, as she got ready to play with Monterio Dunaway. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost to the Tigers, as he had LSU Tigers 2003 and she had GSU. But it was all in fun and games.

Meanwhile, Miss Cover Girl played ping-pong with Anjanae Gibson. During the game, Taylor showed Gibson how to hit the ball properly.

"We’re in college now, and we don’t take time out to play ping-pong and basketball," a smiling Taylor said. "It was just good to not worry about anything."

Others played pool and basketball and colored with the children. The Calendar Girls that attended are: Krystin Frazier, 1st runner-up; Cristian Randle, 2nd runner-up; Markeisha Fields, Miss September; Melody Mitchell, Miss November; Amber Johnson, Miss February; and Quanica Darden, Miss May.

After awhile, it was time for the Calendar Girls to leave. The victims of Katrina were just glad that someone cared.

"They were very kind and polite," said Endya Hillard, a sophomore in high school. "We really enjoyed having them here."

The feeling was the same with Markeisa Fields.

"It was very fulfilling," said Fields, Miss September. "I had a great time playing with the kids, helping take their minds off of the tragedy. I will be going back to spend more time with them."

Trinity Methodist United Church has been holding evacuees there ever since they arrived in the Lincoln Parish area. Many of the residents are in need of so much.

"A lot are coming with nothing," said Marlen Waters, a spokesperson for Trinity. "We’re getting kids into schools and uniforms for them. We’re taking care of their medical needs."

Trinity United Methodist Church is one of the Red Cross shelters in Ruston. They are currently housing 200 residents. Donations and volunteers are still needed. Donations can be brought to the Trinity United Methodist Church Refuge Center in the back of the church at 1000 Woodward in Ruston.