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Truckload of compassion heads south

ETOBICOKE, Ont. -- In response to an appeal from a Louisiana teacher, up to 15 tonnes of school uniforms are being ...


ETOBICOKE, Ont. — In response to an appeal from a Louisiana teacher, up to 15 tonnes of school uniforms are being trucked to students forced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina three months ago. The transportation partnership was coordinated by Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), along with the Wheels Group (a Mississauga-based shipping company) and Forbes Hewlett Transport (a Brampton trucking company) to carry the uniforms to Louisiana.

The clothing, including pants, shirts, sweaters and skirts worth $500,000, has been donated by R. J. McCarthy in Toronto, the largest school uniform supplier in Canada.

The cooperative effort was organized by Toronto Crime Stoppers after Rick Fernandez, the Loss Prevention Manager for 7-Eleven in the U.S. Great Lakes Division, distributed an email appeal from his sister, Jan Berrio, a Baton Rouge school teacher.

Sean Sportun, who is employed by 7-Eleven, brought the appeal to the Toronto Crime Stoppers program where he serves on the Board of Directors. Sportun and other Toronto Crime Stoppers members made contact with Martin McCarthy, the president of R.J. McCarthy’s, who agreed “without hesitation” to assist.

Berrio said thousands of students, who have taken refuge in her city since the Aug. 29 hurricane, were in dire need of school clothing and she appealed for people to provide help.

“As you know, our city is growing and growing each day,” Berrio said in her email. “The East Baton Rouge Parish School system gained 1,500 students just in the past few days.”

At this point, Baton Rouge, a city with a population of 450,000 about 122 km (76 miles) northwest of New Orleans, has more than one million people living there and the infrastructure is overwhelmed.


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