chadrick baker turned me on to this cause by his own personal experience with the organizer Ms. Elaine Allan. I would like to help orchestrate some sort of an event to involve the virtual community in fulfilling the needs for these people. The Austin 80 is not a charitable organization so doing a fund-raiser isn’t something that we can do…as of yet.

Read the following e-mail that Elaine sent to Chadrick about The Austin 80 and then read my idea lets see what we can do together:

Elaine’s Email, list and address at the bottom:

“Yes, there are about 81 people, all in one apartment complex on Rutland. There are also a few from the same “batch” from the refugee camp, who landed in a complex on Burton, which is off east Riverside Drive, but I don’t go there much and it is less than 20 people, including children. However, i have included their needs in this list you asked for. They are babies to elderly, and of Christian, Moslem, and Buddhist religion (the bulk are Christian).
No one has a car.
Most of them do not have a phone yet because of the expense, although some do.
NO ONE HAS A COMPUTER. If they had computers, just about any computers, they could communicate with their monk out on Hwy 71, and their refugee relatives in other countries. The kids could do their schoolwork, and the parents could do the ESL CDs I bring them from Half-Price Books, and the kids could do the learning games I have brought them against the day when they might have a computer. The kids cannot use the school computers before or after school easily at the middle or high school because they ride the bus, which gets them there just before school, and leaves right after school. IF I COULD GET THEM ANY ONE THING ON THIS WHOLE LIST, IT WOULD BE THIS.
In the group on Rutland, 37 are children under 18. None of the teenagers have a good calculator for school use. Imagine school nowadays without a calculator — I used one in high school in the 70’s (thte TI-40 — weren’t they a godsend??)!
Not everyone who needs a bike has one, and nobody has a bike patch repair kit or bike pump or tools to fix a flat.
There are several babies in diapers, which are very expensive and not covered by food stamps of course, and a lady due to deliver pretty soon. They don’t have proper carseats that I know of, and need infant and toddler. I know they don’t have cars, but when volunteers drive them, the baby has to be in a carseat.
Not everybody has socks or sufficient underwear because when I do clothing drives nobody gives these items — because they wouldn’t want to wear someone else’s!
The new people need umbrellas because they walk or ride the bus everywhere.
They need spoons, ricecookers, coffeemakers, mugs, and kitchen towels. They also need dishwashing liquid and laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo, and maybe some conditioner. And they need skin lotion if possible because they are used to living in a warmer, moister environment (I know, here are some folks who will like Austin’s summers!)
Not everybody has a toothbrush. I know in one family they share one. Others don’t have any now. Not everyone has a brush or comb, and some of the ladies and girls would like something to hold their straight black hair away from their face (like barrettes or ponytail holders or scrunchies or clips) but they are so expensive.
I have been taking them books every week, courtesy of Half-Price Books, for a couple of months now, but nobody has a bookshelf that I have seen and so these are beginning to get in the way. The reason this is bad is because they tend to be picked up and piled with the other “junk” the children have strewn on the floor and piled somewhere, making them less accessible and appealing for the next time. If anyone has any old bookshelves, telephone standa, bedside stands with a shelf, magazine rack — anything whch would help keep the books out and in easy sight and reach — I hope I can get it to them. Needless to say, the kids who look at their books the most are coming along the best in English.
Some of the apartments can use some more light, such as from a floor lamp, because a floor lamp doesn’t need to have an existing piece of furniture to be set upon.
None of the rest require any comment and I will try my best guess at the number needed to help out both the large group I see many times a week and the few at the south location. Well, okay, one comment, I have been inside each home many times and I know who is sharing bath towels, who has no toothbrushes, who is pregnant, etc.:

pitchers(8)
cookiesheets(6)
cutting boards(12)
very sharp knives for dicing(32)
bowls(40)
sponges(64)
rice(unlimited, they eat it 3 meals/day)
small mixing bowls(20)
medium mixing bowls(20)
large mixing bowls(20)
plates (200, no need to match the design)
cleaning brushes(35)
scouring powder(20)
manual can openers (20)
potholders (40)
teakettle(if one happens to come in, bring it, but don’t go buy — I know who drinks tea)

bath towels(80)
hand towels(40)
washcloths(80)
bathmats(14)
soap dishes(5)
toothbrushes(200)
toothbrush holders(12)
toilet brush set(20)
bathroom trashcans(8)
all-purpose cleaner(Lysol, Pine-sol, etc.)(20)
shower curtain liners(3)
small baby diapers(under 10 lbs.)
large baby diapers(20+ lbs.)
toothpaste(20)

pencils(many)
pens(dozens)
scissors, adult(12)
manual pencil sharpeners(8)
soccer ball, size 4*
soccer ball, size 5*
American football, small*
American football, full-size*
basketball, full-size*
tennis shoes, all sizesclothing infant – age 18, girl and boy
educational toys, birth-toddler (they have a couple already)
bicycles, teenage/youth(4)

irons(2)(most of them were lucky to receive irons a short while ago!!)
ironing board, probably small is best(5)
coffee tables(3)
end tables(3)
bicycles, adult(4)
bus passes
gift cards to Wal-mart
gift-cards to H-E-B
“Vietnamese”-style brooms from MT Supermarket (these are terrific, try one)(5)
mops(16)
buckets for use with mop(16)
vacuums(14)(they have never had to contend with carpet before and hate it!!)
telephones(10)
phone cards(10)

*NOT A NECESSARY — JUST FOR FUN

The address to ship stuff:
12411 Turtleback Lane
Austin, TX 78727

If you have specific questions for Elaine, you can contact her at: borntohelp@earthlink.net
But please do not spam her, she’s a senior citizen and can only manage so much.

I would like to personally have created a sign or some creative representation of this group notecard and URL giver that I could place out at my shows alongside my merchtable to help raise awareness for the needs of these people. If anyone out there reads about this cause and has a brainstorm of creativity and wants to create something that folks can click on where they recieve the notecard and url as well as a t-shirt or headband or armband or legband or something unique to place on there avatar…that way if you’re wandering around and people ask…”hey whats’ that” thing floating around your head…or nice back pack…or tool belt or whatever the object ends up being…you can reply with “I wear this *fill in the blank* to raise awareness for the Austin 80….maybe it’d just be a t-shirt with A-80 on it…is that a weapon? i better research that before i propose it as an idea.

I’m thinking a virtual concert would be great to raise awareness…i know that Relay for Life is going on and I don’t care to detract from that, but again, as I stated earlier…they need physical items…not money. Lindens’ won’t work in this case…but getting the word out about their needs and trying to rally their local community is crucial. I know that a lot of my fans live in and around Austin…would be great to see some Austin Musicians perform a concert for them…and fuse that with a virtual concert too. Wouldn’t that kick ass? To have austin Musicians performing and virtual one’s right next to them on a big screen on a big stage…with the virtual musician’s music coming through giant speakers…oh I can totally see that…BUT…I dont’ know that reality is ready for that kind of thinking YET! Let’s get some folks on board who ARE!

FOR NOW….Do you have any ideas? Lets roll with it and see what we as individuals and as a virtual community can do to help.

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