SOUTH FORSYTH -- The world of social media is a strange place where simply trying to get rid of old furniture can lead to unexpected results.
Like many people who would rather see something be used than trashed, Megan Denkman posted about a free chair on Facebook. Two of her friends saw it: one who was collecting items to be donated to flood victims in Louisiana and another, also a parent at Pinecrest Academy, who wanted to help out.
After the other parent, Christine Welsko, reached out to parents of high schoolers at the private parochial K-12 school on Peachtree Parkway, more than 150 bags of clothes were collected to help victims of the recent flooding in Louisiana.
At least 13 people have been killed and tens of thousands of structures damaged by flooding in the state, which the American Red Cross has labeled the worst natural disaster to hit the nation since Hurricane Sandy.
As much as two feet of rain was dropped in three days in some areas beginning on Aug. 11. According to local news outlets in the state, some stream depths stayed above flood stage for as many as 10 days.
President Barack Obama has declared disaster areas in at least 20 parishes, and national and local emergency units have rescued more than 30,000 residents and 1,400 pets.
“The email went to the high school community, and, in typical fashion, Pinecrest families stepped up in a big way,” Denkman said. “I knew it would get a response, but it was huge.”
Denkman said it took a “small army of 10 women” who organized the bags of donations.
Welsko said items including boots, baby clothes, athletic equipment, suits and more were donated, many of which were still being used by the donor.
“They didn’t just clean out their closest,” she said. “One woman pulled up and she said, ‘I was wearing these shoes yesterday and I thought they’d be perfect because they slide on and off so easily.’ People were giving, literally, the shirts off their backs.”
She said the donations were a good chance to act on the Christian values of the school.
“It was extremely humbling,” Welsko said. “School just started, and to have some come out of the gate within the first week of school that was like, ‘what can we do for others?’ I was floored.”
Vivian Heard, spokeswoman for Pinecrest, said the efforts fulfill a Faith in Action initiative the school runs through its Family Life program.
“One of the key parts of the program is providing opportunities for Pinecrest families (and the community) to put their faith in action by serving in the community,” Heard said in an email.
The clothes will be delivered by friends of Denkman and will be given directly to those in need in the areas of Central and Prairieville, Louisiana.
“They’re bringing these items directly into communities where their friends and family were directly impacted,” Denkman said. “So it’s going to go straight into the hands of the people who need it.”
Denkman has a unique outlook on helping those who were suffering from the flood, as she lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina swept in devastation in 2005.
“It’s very motivating, I’ll tell you that,” she said. “We weren’t flooded; we lived on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain, so we weren’t underwater. But we had a very good perspective because we were so close to everything that happened. Now being so far way, you can only catch glimpses of it on TV, and it’s very motivating to help because they’re going to be in need for a very long time.”
Anyone wishing to help flood victims can visit VolunteerLoisiana.gov.