Twenty-three-year-old Jon McNary feels a unique calling to those Hurricane Katrina victims he's never even met.
"It's 1,000 miles away, but it's still part of the United States, and there's still people like you and me, and I feel just as compassionate as it if was here in Rockford," McNary said.
On Thursday, McNary and a team of five from Rockford's Heartland Community Church will head to Waveland, Mississippi. There, they'll hook up with a church - and a community - wiped out by 29 foot storm surges, and find out exactly what relief items they can use.
"What we don't want is to double up on what other organizations and services are providing. We want to meet the needs of the people down there," Heartland Community Church Directional Leader Mark Bankord said.
Those needs will be collected here: at the old JCPenney in the heart of Colonial Village Mall. Starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, volunteers will accept lightly used clothing, underwear, socks, stuffed animals and crayons and coloring books.
"We're going to sort it in sizes, in colors and ages and male and female and boy and girl and so it's going to be well organized and well executed," Bankord said.
Beginning next week, teams will transfer the goods via bus to Mississippi. Volunteers argue there's no specific donations goal, just a specific need for residents ravaged by Mother Nature.
"We know that one of the greatest needs is long-term. It's not just right away keeping them alive, but sustaining them, and trying to give them back the life they've lost," McNary said.
An area relief drive to meet the demands of Missipippians, and warm the hearts of Stateline residents.
Heartland Church leaders say already nearly 600 people in the congregation have voiced their desires to assist with the hurricane relief drive.
And here's how you can help: Heartland Church is accepting donations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday at Colonial Village Mall on South Alpine Road in Rockford.
They are securing clothing and children's coloring supplies.