In 2005 a group of friends came together to launch the largest, grassroots donation drive from Van Nuys, CA collecting $3M in donations that were shipped out to LA, MS, AL and TX on 54 donated semi trucks post Hurricane Katrina.
In October of that year, those friends decided to name their efforts "Relief Spark." The meaning behind the name refers to "sparking relief to people in need post disaster."
Between 2006-2008; our amazing volunteers gutted over 200 homes in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans, LA
In 2009, we took on the project of remodeling McDonogh 42 - a Pre-K to 8th grade Charter School in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. Our initial remodeling plans turned into 2 years (+) worth of gardening, landscaping, tutoring, fence building and playground reconstructing. It is our most requested project to date.
For Spring Break 2011, we partnered with the Freret Street Neighborhood Association and repainted a mural; rebuilt a fence; planted flowers; put in a sustainable, community garden; built garden benches and cleaned up a neighborhood park.
May 2011 was a busy month for us. Typically, we would've been working with volunteers on the ground here in New Orleans. However, with all the recent tornado activity, we instead collected donations from Sacred Heart Academy (New Orleans), Entergy and Kinder Haus Montessori and filled a 26ft truck which we drove to Tuscaloosa, AL for residents who lost everything.
On Sunday, May 22nd, from a text of a friend who lost his home, we began "tweeting" shelter locations for residents in Joplin, MO. An EF5 tore through the town - destroying homes and leaving thousands of people with no place to go. We launched virtual efforts by tweeting and posting information to survivors and then on May 28th, we secured ground operations that resulted in serving 35,000 meals, giving cold towels/ice and cold drinks (150,000 bottles) and demolishing 34 homes.Fall 2012 - we led volunteers on minor repairs to replacing roofs. December 2011 we teamed up with The St. Lou Crew to give away an estimated 5-7,000 Christmas presents for over 500 children that had lost their home. The event was "In Memory Of" Will Norton. That day we also arranged for a high school senior who had lost his parents and his truck in the storm, a donated vehicle from a local car dealership. In Winter 2012, we regrouped and supported Americorps, Rebuild Joplin and other existing non-profits with clean up and repair.
In late March/early April we launched our first sustainable school garden project for Cecil Floyd Elementary by leading & working with several hundred volunteers building 15 raisedveggie/fruit gardens, using all organic soil/seeds and custom fitted rain barrels. These veggie/fruit planters can grow enough produce to feed the 500 children that attend school. Volunteers also designed and built two beautiful "peace gardens" filled with flowering trees and flowers. The garden is nestled next to a grove of trees behind the school.
All of this and more was accomplished by the generosity of the volunteers, partners and donors of Relief Spark that we appreciate so much!
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