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Sisters to provide relief to Midwest flood victims

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Trio to drive truckload of donations to Cedar Rapids, Iowa

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - They are calling themselves Nswi Nokmisag (''The Three Grandmothers''). Three Sault Tribe sisters, Anita McKerchie, Carol Eavou and Bev Eavou (married to brothers), are preparing to make the 12-hour drive to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, pulling a trailer they hope will be loaded with donated supplies for victims of the recent Iowa flooding.

It all began with a phone call and some sisterly chatting. While a news report on the flood victims was on in the other room, one of the sisters was cleaning out her closet. She said it would be nice to be able to donate her clothes to the victims, rather than selling them at a yard sale or taking them to a local charity. The plan had begun; as the two sisters talked, they became excited about the idea.

Wanting to make sure the donated items got into the hands that needed them the most, they decided to take steering wheel in hand and do what they could to help. Nswi Nokmisag will leave the evening of July 17. They are asking local communities for donations of items to help the flood victims. The trailer is parked in McKerchie's front yard located at 1800 Bawating Road in Sault Ste. Marie, at the corner of Shunk and Bawating roads on the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians reservation. Donations may be dropped off at the trailer or brought up to the house.

Some of the items requested by flood victims are:

*Kitchen items - cookware, dishes, flatware and small appliances;

*Cleaning supplies - rubber gloves, cleaning products, garbage bags, brooms, mops, buckets and cleaning cloths;

*Personal hygiene - deodorant, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, feminine products and aspirin;

*Disposable items - paper plates/cups, plastic ware, paper towels and toilet paper;

*Shelter items - tents, tarps, bungee cords, clothes line, clothes pins, sleeping bags, pillows, folding table and chairs, flashlights and batteries;

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*Baby items - cereal, formula, bottles, food, diapers, wipes, clothing and blankets; and

*Gift cards - Wal-Mart, K-mart, gas cards and Visa gift cards.

There are many other daily living items not included on this list that would also be welcome.

Nswi Nokmisag made contact with the Cedar Rapids Sheriff's Department and plan to contact some local churches as well.

''We are going through local law enforcement and trying to work with local agencies to make sure the gift cards and donated items get to the people that need them,'' McKerchie said. ''Someone asked me what's in this for us, what are we getting out of it? I told them we are getting back one of the greatest gifts of all ... knowing you have made a difference in someone's life.''

The sisters are planning to document their trip with digital cameras and upload the pictures to the Internet to share.

''When we are able to see the devastation that others face, it makes us so much more appreciative of all that we have,'' said Carol Eavou. Those wishing to have pictures of the trip forwarded to them can call McKerchie to be placed on an e-mail list.

Two of the sisters will be stopping in Hartland to pick up the third sister and load up any donations she was able to collect from her community. They expect to be in Cedar Rapids July 18.

Anyone wishing to make a donation may stop by the trailer or call McKerchie at (906) 635-5532.

''It is our Anishinaabe way to share with those who are in need. This trip is about doing what we can to help the flood victims. We can make such a difference in others lives by using the gifts of our Seven Grandfather teachings, showing compassion and kindness to those who need it,'' McKerchie said. ''How do you start rebuilding your life when you have lost everything but the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet?''