In all shapes and forms, Lake Highlands is banding together to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. From school groups to athletic associations, our community has found a way to reach out to those in need, especially people that have been relocated to our area.

One example of this is Lake Highlands High School students Oz Davis, Cameron Gray and Scott Renkes. The boys, all Scouts in Troop 890, decided to coordinate with the Salvation Army National Disaster Relief Headquarters to find out what they could do, and made that their Eagle Scout project.

“We saw the need, and we figured as Boy Scouts we should do something about it,” Davis says.

So the boys distributed sacks and flyers to more than 2,000 homes asking for items to make personal hygiene kits, such as washcloths, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant.

Once collected and assorted into kits, the donations will be distributed to the place they are most needed in the Dallas area. According to Davis, the Salvation Army will determine that location.

Davis also says that his Scout troop plans ongoing collections, and he says they will continue to help the Salvation Army.

Citing the need to bring some stability into the lives of Katrina evacuees, Spring Valley Athletic Association, located in our neighborhood, is welcoming relocated children to participate in any SVAA sports program this fall, winter and spring at no charge.

“We’ve sent out a letter to 7,000-8,000 people in our program, to PTA presidents, to RISD, and to the city of Richardson,” says SVAA’s Gayle Jackson. “We’re getting a lot of positive response. We think that we will get quite a few people.”

Jackson says they’ve already had some children sign up to play sports, and she hopes more will learn about the offer. She says SVAA is trying to place children on teams that play near the area in which they are residing, and that coaches and parents have offered to help get these children to and from games.

The National Honor Society at Lake Highlands High School is working to locate victims of Katrina who are in Lake Highlands – either with family, friends or other locations – and provide any assistance they can.

Anna Russo, NHS service chairman, is heading up the effort. She says the group is asking students to donate old reading books from their school reading list. And she’s also working with the Lake Highlands PTA to organize a community-wide event, perhaps a blood drive, she says.

And right now, Lake Highlands PTA’s Angels Program, a two-year-old community outreach group of about 30 Lake Highlands women, is working with counselors and incoming students to make sure the students have everything they need for school, such as backpacks and school supplies.

“The Angels have really stepped it up. They’ve offered to bring school supplies, food, gift cards,” says Sally Grinsfelder, who along with the help of Janile Heldenbrand is heading up the effort.

Grinsfelder and Heldenbrand have been putting together backpacks full of school supplies and also a personal hygiene kit for counselors to distribute to incoming students who have been relocated because of the disaster.

Grinsfelder says they will continue this particular project until there are no more students coming in.

“I grew up in Lake Highlands. I think we are a small town community…as we always have in the past, we’ve just supported our students,” she says.