People are taking Harvey relief into their own hands

"This trailer that is behind it, that is being filled by the goodwill of a lot of New Orleanians," Valobra said. "They remember how good Houston was to us 12 years ago."

NEW ORLEANS -- There has been an outpouring from the New Orleans community to help Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.

But this time, some have decided to take matters into their own hands.

The Red Cross has taken a lot of questions over the years on if donations were properly spent in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac in 2012.

They say 91 percent of the money spent, not 91 percent of the money donated, goes to humanitarian services and programs. Still, we're hearing more and more about do it yourself giving.

Jeweler Franco Valobra couldn't sit idle any longer as people suffered in Texas. So he sent an E-mail yesterday to his customer list of 2,500, and within hours, the bounty started pouring in.

"This trailer that is behind it, that is being filled by the goodwill of a lot of New Orleanians," Valobra said. "They remember how good Houston was to us 12 years ago."

Because he has a store in Houston, as well as the French Quarter, he contacted the Harris County Police Department that he's been supporting for years with his foundation, The Harris County Sheriff's Office Foundation.

"And I called them and said, 'Do you need money?' And their response was, 'You know, we need stuff. We need stuff to bring immediately to the places for the people who have lost their homes,'" Valobra said.

Vincent George is on the staff of the Conwill Foundation and remembers the need for basic necessities after he lost everything in Slidell in Hurricane Katrina.

"Knowing that we had all experienced in Katrina, also there was no way that we couldn't help. So Mrs. Conwill and I went shopping," George said as he was unloading supplies.

That Katrina memory kept coming up.

"Our kids are really good friends, and they're Katrina kids. And we remember when we were displaced and how it felt and we want to give back to those who are displaced in Houston," said Kim Abramson.

And there is a reason they are taking matters into their own hands and not relying on big charities.

"I'm just worried about efficiency, immediate efficiency. A day late can make the difference for a family. In less than 24 hours all of the product in that trailers, 5,000 pounds of product, will be in the hands who needs it," Valobra said. 

The trailer left at 7 p.m. Thursday and if the supplies keep coming, Valobra says they will keep making the drive to Houston until they run out of donated supplies.

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