Evacuee Kids Can Be Kids at Reed

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From the hundreds who originally inhabited Reed Arena, just a few dozen remain. To see many of them, you have to look down.

If you have to look up, look up to the many volunteers who have cared for them.

"They ask me if I live here, and I practically do," said Kim Kallas, who has been coordinating child care at Reed. "I go to class every chance I get, I come back, and I make sure things are running smoothly."

"Considering what they just came out of, it's important for them to just enjoy themselves," said Vince Liberto, a member of the Corps of Cadets. "They're kids. Childhood isn't supposed to be about being shuffled from place to place. It's who's going to play with you next."

Some volunteers have been at Reed from the beginning. New volunteers arrive every day. In fact, there are more volunteers now at Reed than evacuees. That doesn't mean the fresh help is unwanted.

"These parents need to find jobs and housing," said Kallas. "It's our job to be here with the children and take care of them."

Just ask one of the kids about their experiences of the last few days. They won't tell you about whipping winds and rising waters.

"I love the hula hoop," said young Breion Duncan, one of the evacuees still at Reed. "It's fun because I love it [the hula hoop]. Me and Kim have been jump-roping and played a basketball game..."

You get the idea.

In the eyes of the youngest of Reed's residents, the arena hasn't been a shelter from their hells. It's been the discovery of a heaven on Earth.

"To be as optimistic and loving and caring as they have, I can't believe it," said Liberato.

"I just hope and pray that we were there for them and we supported them," Kallas said. "That's what I wanted our area to be, just somewhere for the kids to go and get their mind off the important stuff the parents had to take care of."

Whether there have been hundreds or dozens in Reed, care has never been in question.