In place of the latest party news this week, Party Girl is bringing y'all a firsthand account of local operations from the volunteer front. I've donned my khakis and baseball cap in lieu of my usual cocktail dress to find out who's been helping the Hurricane Katrina evacuees in town. Of course, there's been no shortage of helping hands out there, as this is Acadiana! Nor has there been a shortage of food, even for the animals. I've seen plenty of barbecue pits smoking, and the first day the evacuees arrived at the Cajundome, the big ones were rolled out. Most pits were manned by oil companies, but Sheriff Mike Neustrom had his out there, too. And KSMB's three-day food and supply drive with local car dealers and the mall pitched in as well.

Tremendous community support also poured into the Blackham Coliseum animal shelter and its nearly 300 animals. Dr. Kenny Arcenaux, an intern specialist veterinarian who evacuated from Covington, turned out to help, as did another displaced vet from Metairie. Joan Hargrave, a student from Loyola who is now enrolled at UL, also came out to volunteer. And Party Girl met up with a family from Avondale who was feeding its black lab puppy. That puppy was too cute!

The children's area at the Cajundome was also filled with local volunteers. Rosemary Zehnder, Michelle deLaunay and Charlene Gossen just couldn't stay home and headed over to the dome in those first few days. Matthew Coussan also showed up with a duffle bag full of playthings to organize some "play therapy." R. J. Wallace, Sid Robicheaux, Scott Fontenot, Keith Rousseau and Deke deKerglegand III headed in from NOVA Technology in Broussard to help in the drink catering area and were just naturals.

Also at the dome, Zydetech was at its best, providing computer terminals so evacuees could check their e-mail and instant message their loved ones. The Chamber has also helped out to hook up displaced businesses with office space and introduce them to our community. Local hair salons also got on board to donate beauty supplies to those at the Cajundome. The Beauty Lounge downtown even offered the women free hairstyles for a day and hosted Brooke Harper's ninth birthday party. The Zoo of Acadiana let kids in for free for a couple days, as did several other attractions around town. And I have to tell y'all about Louise Ganucheau, who paid for the uneaten meals from the OCRA luncheon the day after the hurricane and donated them to evacuees at Hotel Acadiana. You go girl!

Blackham shelter supervisor Shanna Turner pretty much summed things up when she said, "I love this town!" She was astounded at the generosity of the community and its donations. Party Girl seconds that notion and will have plenty more to tell y'all about in the weeks to come, as the good deeds just keep pouring in!

Volunteer On! - PG

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