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Hurricane Irma – ‘Wonder Girls’ Help in Georgia Shelter

Staying in an evacuation center can be a bit tedious for an energetic 12-year-old girl. So Khaaliya Freire wanted in on the action when her father Mitchell Robinson began volunteering for the Red Cross at the Columbus (GA) Civic Center during Irma. As grandmother Shirley Newton put it, “She was saying, ‘I need to do something’ – and she put on his vest and started helping.”

Khaaliya was one of her family of eight who traveled across Georgia from near Savannah to stay in the evacuation center. It reached capacity of almost 600, more than any other center in the state. Soon Khaaliya was working at the snack table and picking up trash, wearing her father’s vest, with the blessing of center manager Heidi Bassano. It was so much fun that sisters Bleutte, 11, and Marley, 9, wanted in too. Bassano was happy to put all three of them to work at the snack tables. All three loved it, said mom Maria Robinson. She was quite busy herself, caring not just for her three daughters but also for daughter Naomi, 5, and son Javon, 3.

Bassano of Atlanta, GA, called the three sisters her ‘wonder girls’.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.