August 31, 2005

Rivals.com, Texas school team up to help

HOUSTON - Rivals.com and the Galena Park Independent School District are teaming up to bring a little relief to the refugees of Hurricane Katrina who have migrated to the greater Houston area.

Fans with valid identification from the states of Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama will be admitted free to the game between Galena Park North Shore and Alief Hastings at 7 p.m. Friday at Galena Park I.S.D Stadium.

There also will be donation stations set up around the stadium where fans can donate clothing, food, cash and other items to the victims.

"As an association, we want to do our part to help," Galena Park I.S.D Athletics Director Ed Warken said. "We felt like it would be a good distraction to go to a high school football game."

Warken added that there were quite a few people in his community, which sits on the east side of Houston toward the Louisiana border, who have relatives in the Pelican State.

Rivals.com recruiting analyst Matt Malatesta spearheaded the idea and even donated some of his own money toward the cause.

"This gives some of those folks a chance to come see some big-time Texas football," Malatesta said.

The tragic aftermath of Katrina has hit close to home for North Shore coach David Aymond, a native of Opelousas, La.

"The one thing I remember growing up about New Orleans is that if the big one ever hit, it's over," he said. "Well, it didn't hit directly, but it was close enough to where it was pretty bad."

Aymond added that he hopes that the game can provide an escape for some of the refugees.

"It's not a solution," Aymond said. "I think only the tsunami (which struck Asia on Dec. 26, killing thousands) surpasses this, but that of course was an international tragedy. I can't think of anything worse on American soil in terms of a natural disaster."

Some 25,000 refugees from the New Orleans area are expected to take shelter in Houston's Astrodome. They will be transported by bus. Louisiana officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, 80 percent of which is flooded.

"We know it's not much, but at a time like this, you do what you can," Rivals.com editor-in-chief Bobby Burton said. "Ultimately, you hope it creates a spirit of caring and giving across many companies, school districts and people everywhere. And if that means helping some people who are struggling desperately right now, to just be able to make them feel at home and be able to go to a high school football game, then that's what we need to do.

"We know it's not much, but hopefully it's a start."

Galena Park is located 20 miles off I-10, just south of Baytown.

North Shore (1-0) is coming off a 58-7 win against Alief Elsik and features Texas cornerback commit Chykie Brown and Arizona fullback commit Earl Mitchell, among others. Hastings (0-1) dropped its opener to Fort Bend Hightower last week, 32-29.

Rivals.com encourages donations to the American Red Cross. You can specify your donation go toward "2005 Hurricane Relief." To make donations, please click here.

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