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CCC makes special delivery to Gulf Coast

Amanda Fehd
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / California Conservation Corps crew member Sean McCarthy fills a box with donated clothing that will be loaded into a rental truck and driven to Louisiana for hurricane relief.
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The California Conservation Corps loaded up a 28-foot truck last week with 6,000 pieces of clothing that are now on their way to victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.

Center director Gary Ray started his long drive on Sunday.

“It’s far from over and people are still in dire straits in a lot of the Gulf Coast communities,” Ray said. “It may have dropped from our consciousness somewhat, but from talking to people in New Iberia, they are still desperate. Some still don’t have running water.”

The clothes came from Mammoth Lakes, where for three months gallery owner Tina Carroll has been collecting donations in her garage. When she reached full capacity, she still had not found a way to get the clothes to the South.

Then she saw a notice that Ray put out about the CCC’s work and decided to give him a try.

“I would have been lost without Gary,” Carroll said. “We were all just sweating on how we were going to get this done, it got so large and tremendous.”

It took 15 Corps employees 300 hours to separate and sort the clothes, which included parkas, water-proof jackets and sweaters. The clothes will go to a warehouse set up to distribute goods to victims.

“People think it doesn’t get cold down there, but it does,” Ray said.

After Carroll called, he got to work calling around to see who could donate goods and services.

The CCC Foundation, Penske Truck Rentals and Pallet Depot in Reno, America West Airlines, Boise Paper Co. in Yampa, Idaho, and Lira’s Supermarket in Meyers helped make Ray’s cross-country drive possible.

The CCC provides job training and education opportunities to youth throughout California. Applicants must pass a drug test and fingerprint background check to qualify. Criminal records are not allowed. Its Tahoe home base lies in Meyers behind Lira’s Supermarket.

The Corps occasionally gets a bad rap and its members are sometimes accused of trouble making. Ray said they’ve had two complaints since moving into their new Meyers facility. The CCC gives the young people a chance at an improved life they may never have had back home, he said.

One of the missions of the CCC is to provide emergency assistance during floods, earthquakes and fires.

That often boils down to a lot of hard work, low pay and miserable conditions, said Bill Martinez, who has been with the Corps for 16 years. Kids develop a work ethic, have expanded education opportunities and earn scholarships, he said.

Nine CCC crews were sent to Louisiana after Katrina to help shore up roofs that were damaged during the storm.

Tahoe’s crew did not get to go, although many wanted to badly, Ray said.

“Community service is one of the tenets we teach at the CCC,” Ray said. “It does connect them with the tragedy. They are begging to come with me, but it’s impossible.”


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