|By Michelle Symington|
WESTFIELD When Jackie Koller, owner of the Little Black Dog Gallery, saw all of devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, she wanted to do something to help the victims.
"I was just affected by it," she said. "Everyone was. How could you not be?"
She added that the hurricane caused not only a loss of life, but a loss of hope for many of the victims who became refugees.
Her first thought was to place a collection cup at the register of the gallery, but then she decided she wanted to do something fun for the visitors of her gallery, while raising funds for those affected by the disaster.
Now through November 5, Koller's fund-raiser "Quarters for Katrina" encourages families to visit the "Witch Mountain" Halloween train display at the gallery and place a quarter in a glass pumpkin bowl that will benefit the hurricane victims.
Koller said that her husband's hobby is trains and they decided to set up a Halloween scene in the gallery.
"The target was to have it be a family thing," she said.
She added that a quarter is affordable for families who want to help in some way.
"We are all under the gun with finances and gas prices," she said.
Koller added that parents are giving the quarters to their children to place in the bowl, which she said "becomes a teachable moment."
She said that she has overheard parents say to their children "'remember all the people in TV whose houses are flooded? This is why we we are putting the money here.' "
Koller said that the fund-raiser encourages families to talk about the tragedy. She added that she is happy with the family interactions and discussions that she has witnessed as a result of her fund-raiser.
All of the money raised by the "Quarters for Katrina" fund-raiser will be given to the Red Cross Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund and will benefit the victims of the disaster.
There is no goal set for the fund-raiser.
"Whatever we can get is great," Koller said, adding that the Red Cross is happy to receive any type of donation. "There is going to be a continued need for a long time."
If the fund-raiser is successful, Koller said she may continue it through the winter when the Christmas train display goes up in the gallery.
The Little Black Dog Gallery is located in the Pilgrim Candle Marketplace, 16 Union Avenue. Visitors can stop by between the hours of 10 a.m. - 5 pm. daily to donate a quarter to help the hurricane victims. For more information about the gallery, visit www.blackdoggallery.com.