Mission from Minnesota

class=img_thumbleft>When Hurricane Katrina hit on the last day of August, Diana Knoble felt compelled to take some kind of action to help the people whose lives had been turned upside down. "We were depressed and feeling guilty that all these people were suffering and our lives were totally unaffected," Knoble recalls.

The local filmmaker and a group of friends began hastily organizing a caravan to ferry supplies to the stricken area. One of their emails soliciting support for the effort happened to reach photographer Quito Ziegler in New York City. Ziegler had just finished driving a 26-foot truck emblazoned with her pictures of immigrant life in Minnesota around the state. The truck was currently sitting idle by her Minneapolis apartment. She arranged for Knoble to get a key and agreed to let her drive it to the impacted region.

Along the way Knoble and her crew picked up donated supplies from companies and individuals: 12,000 pounds of water, diapers, tampons, toilet paper, apples, squash, corn. They eventually ended up in Biloxi, Mississippi, one of the towns hit hardest by Katrina. There they set up a relief operation at Main Street Missionary Baptist Church, doling out supplies and food to people in the area.

"We're not religious people," says Knoble. "We don't belong to a church. We're just tapping into our own intentions to be a benevolent force."

Dubbing their organization Mission From Minnesota, Knoble and various partners have now made four trips to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas to aid relief efforts. They are in the process of organizing another caravan to New Orleans and are looking for recruits for the Thanksgiving week trip. Working with First Avenue United Methodist Church, the group intends to spend a week cleaning up and helping rebuild the surrounding New Orleans neighborhood. "Ten weeks later there's no clean up going on in these neighborhoods," says Knoble.

They are also, naturally, seeking money and supplies. "Right now our greatest need is to get mold respirators," notes Knoble. "They're like fifty bucks apiece."

You can find out more about the impending trip and watch Knoble's interesting documentary in progress about the relief efforts at the group's web site.

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