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Katrina victims thank Penn Valley

Thank-you notes may be part of a more chivalrous past, but one recently sent to all of Penn Valley proves they are still appreciated.

When Hurricane Katrina victim Linda Gusman opened a box of relief food and eventually found a note from Joe McDaniel of Penn Valley inside, she felt compelled to read it.

With her Slidell, La., home destroyed, which led to living six months in motels and now living between a FEMA trailer and another home with her husband and family, Gusman was overtaken by McDaniel’s generosity.



“To get something from a stranger was just a wonderful thought,” Gusman said this week. “I found (the note) in the box and I thought it was so nice; it meant so much.”

McDaniel and friend Judy Nichols of Penn Valley had decided to clean out their closets and send the good stuff to Katrina victims after the disaster late last summer. They filled McDaniel’s truck twice with clothes and household goods and took them to Plaza Tire and Auto Service in Penn Valley.




The goods were relayed to the Nevada County Rotary Clubs’ Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“We were told we could put our names and addresses in and Joe wrote some encouraging words,” Nichols said. That was Oct. 1, and it wasn’t until late January that Gusman found McDaniel’s note in the box of food when she moved into her new trailer.

It read:

“I hope you enjoy this food as much as I enjoy giving it to you. God has been good to me.

“I am 74 years young, in good health and my prayers are with all of you.”

“The last six months have been such a depressing time that this was a huge thing to me,” Gusman said. When her family first fled Katrina, they thought they would only be gone a few days, like they had been in past hurricanes.

But they were virtually wiped out when 3 feet of water inundated their home. The long struggle back has been arduous, but McDaniel’s note was such an emotional lift that Gusman felt she had to write back.

So she wrote a letter to the people of Penn Valley and McDaniel, praising their relief efforts. When McDaniel received the thank-you note, he was mutually touched.

“It was a really nice gesture,” McDaniel said. “She sent me this really sweet letter.”

“This shows that what people did helped,” Nichols said.

“I thought it was so great that (the relief) got somewhere,” said Cecelia Young, who works at Plaza Tire in Penn Valley.

“So often you donate things, and you never know where they end up. Those (Gusmans) were nice people.”

“It came full circle,” said Plaza Tire owner Mark Heauser, who donated the relief goods space along with owner-brother Mike Heauser at their Penn Valley and Nevada City shops.

“We’re involved with Rotary and thankful for where we live,” Mark said.

“It was just a way to get involved with a community that provides so much.”

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To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call477-4237.


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