When Hurricane Isaac hit the New Orleans area and he was spared the devastation that so many others are experiencing, Metairie resident Robert Gilberti knew he had to do something.
Instead of making a monetary donation to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, he decided to buy shoes.
And, not just a few pair.
Gilberti spent more than $700 at a Metairie Kmart for 180 pairs and delivered them by truck Sept. 7 to Catholic Charities' offices on Howard and Loyola avenues in New Orleans. He said the Kmart on Veterans and Power boulevards chipped in by giving him a discount.
“Nobody thinks about shoes,” Gilberti, a jeweler and jack-of-many trades, said. He said people don’t mind getting used clothing because it can be washed; but nobody relishes getting used shoes.
“It was the right thing to do,” said Gilberti, a Catholic who graduated from St. Mary Magdalen and Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie. “I think it’s important to help the local people as much as you can. Charity begins at home.”
Gilberti has been dubbed the “shoe elf” by Catholic Charities and is one of many who have shown generosity toward their fellow neighbors in need throughout the archdiocese.
Helen Read Smith, director of development for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, said many entities have come forward with donations including DeLonghi America Inc. out of New Jersey, which donated 100 dehumidifiers. Others include Catholic Charities USA, Save the Children, Baptist Community Ministries and anonymous donors.
Smith also mentioned how many, locally and elsewhere, have offered to hold fund-raisers to help Catholic Charities.
Archdiocesan employees working at the Howard Avenue and Walmsley Avenue buildings were participating in a food drive Sept. 10-12 for Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, a ministry of the archdiocese, and also were invited to donate to Second Harvest’s website: http://no-hunger.org.
A second collection was to be taken up at weekend Masses throughout the archdiocese.
Catholic Charities has a goal of raising $1.8 million to help in its long-term response to Isaac, its CEO and president Gordon Wadge said. As of Sept. 7, approximately $700,000 had been raised.
To help out, visit www.ccano.org. If you need assistance, call the Catholic Charities Care Line at (866) 891-2210.