Friends of ‘Times-Picayune’ Tops $300,000 In Hurricane Relief

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By: Joe Strupp

Two years after it began raising money to help newspaper staffers in New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina, the Friends of the Times-Picayune has raised and distributed more than $300,000, according to organizers.

And the collections are not over yet — with plans for the group’s third fundraiser, a cocktail reception in New York next month hosted in part by Time Magazine.

“Just because two years has passed doesn’t mean the problems have faded,” said Bridget O’Brian, a Times-Picayune reporter from 1981 to 1988 and a co-organizer. “People are still struggling everyday.”

The group, organized by a handful of Times-Picayune alum, began collecting money soon after the 2005 hurricane devastated New Orleans, and many of the newspaper’s employees. Since its creation, the group has provided aid to about 190 Times-Picayune employees through four different rounds of checks, distributing $371.64 to each on December 15, 2005; $452.48 on May 22, 2006; $392.10 on September 18, 2006; and $163.76 on March 29, 2007.

The funds have been collected through private donations as well as numerous contributions from foundations and companies. Two previous fundraisers also added to the fund, with $25,000 collected at a January 2007 fundraiser in Washington, D.C., and another $10,000 at a similar April event in Boston.

“Everyone in New Orleans who went through Katrina is still in crisis,” said Dean Baquet, Washington, D.C., bureau chief of The New York Times and a former Times-Picayune reporter who will take part in the October New York event. “Whatever we can do to help them is vital.”

The New York fundraiser is set for Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Time & Life building. Others from the news industry taking part include Walt Handelsman, a Newsday cartoonist and Times-Picayune veteran, as well as Amanda Bennett, Richard Berke, Walter Shapiro, Paul Steiger, Nan Varoga, and Matthew Winkler.

Donations requested to attend the event are $50. More information is available at www.friendsofthetimespicayune.com.

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