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After serving breakfast at the Astrodome, I went down to the floor of the dome to help my guys unload a truck that had pulled in at the east entrance. When I got there I realized it was one of two large Neighbors Moving trucks from Florida full of toys for the kids. We busily went to unlaoding the toys and arranging them so the kids could more easily get to them. The stack of stuffed critters had to be 7 feet tall! It was great seeing the faces of the kids as they collected their toys. During this time one of the residents of the dome was helping us. The hours flew buy and it was like Christmas Day, New Years day and the 4th of July all rolled in to one! We got to be Santa Claus for a day. Linda never slowed down. She would hug each stuffed animal she passed on to a child and was the most upbeat person of the group, which was hard to beat--because the folks from Florida were on quite a high to see the success of their efforts!
As things slowed down Linda began to talk with me and my guys as we cleaned up and prepared for the next batch of kids when school let out.
Linda is a petitte thing, just barely 5 feet tall if that and couln't weigh more the 85 pounds. I am terrible at guessing women's ages and won't try. Linda lost her home and van in New Orleans to the storm. Her family is scattered and some still missing. Her mother is in Luling Texas at a hospital there. Her daughter is in Dallas. Another is on the east coast somewhere. She was watching over a relative with her at the dome who has Parkinson's. She is still missing some 3 or 4 other family members and doesn't know if they are dead or alive.
She lived through some of the worst of the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. She saw the shooting and looting on Canal Street and other locations. She told the story of one young man who had "this big old machine gun" and was shooting up an ATM machine. He became enraged when he still couldn't get the money out of it and began to fire wildly. Linda said she walked up to him and asked him to stop, that he could hurt someone with all those bullets. That took guts. Apparently he did stop. She saw some folks enter a funeral home and for just "sheer meaness" dumped bodies out of their coffins in to the water. These were just a couple of her stories. But here she was working with us to bring children joy and happiness. She was non stop energy. As our day an the dome came to an end we each embraced Linda. Each of us and Linda had tears in our eyes. She kept thanking us, and it was us who were thankful to her. Hope springs eternal and my prayers and thoughts will be with Linda and all the Linda's out there who are showing all of us what a real hero looks like. God Bless them all!
BLYGOAT
 
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