Havre Daily News
A pancake breakfast Saturday in Havre raised $7,700 for Red Cross relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The breakfast, held at the Havre fire station, served more than 800 people, Mayor Bob Rice said, adding that he was ecstatic about the turnout.
"People of Havre always do rise to the occasion," he said.
The fundraising meal was put on by Rice, the Havre Fire Department, community members and Red Cross volunteers after the mayor rallied them all together.
"Why wouldn't I want to help?" fire Capt. Bob Keeler said while cooking for the event. Keeler said he thinks people in New Orleans would do the same for Havre if a disaster were to strike.
The Fossil Festival reunion this weekend, which raised another $2,300 for the cause, might have added a slight boost to the turnout, but most people were probably there to help out victims of Katrina, Keeler said.
More than 40 gallons of pancake batter were used during the breakfast. Contributors for the feast included Gary & Leo's IGA, Textana Inc., Bear Paw Credit Union, the Eagles Club, Havre Laundry & Dry Cleaning, and Wells Fargo.
All of the chairs in the fire station were filled at almost every moment of the five-hour event. The benefit brought out first-time volunteers as well as those who have been with the Red Cross for decades.
"A lot of people don't think about it because it doesn't affect them personally," said first-time Red Cross volunteer Jeremy Mork of Havre. "They don't turn it around as if it was them in this situation."
Vicke Schend, who has volunteered for the Bear's Paw District of the Red Cross for 10 years, said she wanted to show her appreciation to those able to go to the stricken areas. Schend said she is distressed when she sees people who are hungry but realizes what effort it takes to help.
"It took us two days to get this benefit together and that is only for maybe 1,000 people," Schend said as she took a short break from serving coffee to attendees.
Everyone was affected by the hurricane, whether by an increase in gasoline prices or a need to express compassion, Red Cross volunteer Bob Nieuwenhuyse said.
"The turnout for the breakfast and nationwide response is an indication of how the nation can pull together in a time of need," he said while taking a breather from pancake flipping.
Mork said he thinks people have unfairly criticized the government's response time.
"I think the hit people are putting on the military is wrong," he said. "I was in the military and it takes a long time to mobilize."
Jerry Hanson of Havre agreed, saying he thinks government personnel are doing everything they can to deal with the disaster.
"I don't think anyone could be ready for destruction of that nature," he said.