It’s going to be a long time.

Capt. Mary Harris with the Salvation Army of McAlester, said the organization has made a long-term commitment to help the people of Mississippi recover from Hurricane Katrina.

“Oklahoma and Arkansas (Salvation Armies) are helping the Katrina victims,” she said, “especially in Mississippi.”

Among those helping is her husband, Capt. Don Harris. Don Harris was deployed to Shreveport, La., right after Hurricane Katrina struck the area. He was later sent to the Biloxi area. He and other Salvation Army personnel were in charge of a canteen.

He returned about two weeks later but was only home for about a week and a half before going back to Biloxi. He told his wife they work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day—long hours, but hours that are well worth it to those they have helped.

With emergency recovery centers in Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., Don Harris said they have served an average of 12,920 meals each day. That number includes around 3,000 snacks a day.

The organization has also helped 48,520 people with pastoral care. People coming to the recovery centers receive groceries, new clothing, a debit card, clean-up kits, personal items and diapers among other items.

Don Harris said they have also had 60,000 missing people inquiries of which 14,523 have been found.

In addition to running the emergency recovery centers, the Salvation Army is also working with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild homes along with Baptist organizations and the Latter Day Saints.

“The Salvation Army has made at least a five-year commitment to help rebuild,” Mary Harris said. “It’s a long-term commitment to help these people.”

Mary Harris added the Salvation Army also helped evacuees in this area and at Camp Gruber with food, diapers and temporary housing. “If they need something, we’ll find a way of getting it for them.”

Monetary donations are being accepted at the local Salvation Army office, 400 N. A St. According to a news release, in-kind donations are not being accepted to be sent to the Gulf region. Instead, it was suggested to continue taking such items to the local thrift store.

Contact Teresa Atkerson at family@mcalesternews.com.

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