Picayune residents put together money to help Amish

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The residents of Picayune have not forgotten some people who came down from Pennsylvania last year to help following Hurricane Katrina, which roared through town on Monday, Aug. 29. Now, Picayune residents are stepping up to help their Amish friends in a time of need.

The idea to raise money for the Amish community came to a local student after a man took 10 girls hostage in a small Amish school in Lancaster County, Penn. The man, identified as 32 year-old Charles Carl Roberts IV, shot the 10 girls and then himself during the incident. Five of the girls died while the others were taken for medical attention.

Sunday, one of the five injured girls was released from the hospital and has gone home, according to AP reports.

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Picayune Memorial High School student Kasey Mitchell decided that raising money to help the Amish families with medical expenses would be her senior project. After all, the Amish had come to Picayune and Pearl River County to help residents here that were devastated by the storm.

After Hurricane Katrina, several groups of Amish volunteers came to Pearl River County to lend a hand with the rebuilding process, something residents here have not forgotten.

“It’s the right thing to do because they came down to help us,” said Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown about the fundraiser.

“The opportunity to give back to those who helped us was something not to pass up,” Mitchell said.

The student named her idea Project Philippians, based off a letter of thanks described in the Bible, and her goal is to raise $10,000 to help the Amish in their time of need.

Diane Miller, operations assistant for the City of Picayune, said the boot drive conducted by the fire department on Friday to help Mitchell with the project collected more than $5,000. Miller said $4,998 in bills was collected during the drive, but somebody added the missing two dollars to make it an even $5,000. In addition there is still a substantial amount of change to count, putting the total collected during the drive to more than $5,000.

Brown said the Amish are mostly self insured and the drive should help them with the medical bills that are adding up.

“We want to do all we can to help them in this trying time,” Brown said.

In addition to the boot drive, a bank account will be set up at Bank Plus in Picayune under the account name City of Picayune Nickel Mines Children’s Fund and Lancaster County Penn., where additional donations can be made, Miller said.

To continue the collection effort, Mitchell said she is planning other events such as a collection at this Friday’s football game. At the game, Mitchell plans to pass around helmets to collect money for the cause. Also, Mitchell plans to ask each student and parent to bring a dollar to school but she is still working out the details on that idea.

Mitchell said she will see about putting up a heart to tally up the funds collected and place it where the train station is supposed to be on U.S. 11, to monitor the progress of the fund raiser.