"Hope for Holidays" for flood victims. - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Hope for Holidays" for flood victims.


CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- For hundreds of families, in Cedar Rapids, their "gift" this Christmas was simply surviving this summer's floods. Now, there's "Hope for the Holidays" and presents under the tree thanks to the generosity of some local folks.

When floodwaters swamped her Cedar Rapids home, Stephanie Wright knew she had to keep moving to keep a roof over her family's heads.

"I stopped at a gas station, got the paper to get another house as soon as possible," recalled Wright.

She eventually found a two-story apartment. But, she soon realized that the floods could be the "Grinch" to steal Christmas from her three kids. Her holiday wish?

"For my kids to be happy," said Wright.

Wish granted! The Cedar Rapids Salvation Army organized "Hope for the Holidays" for hundreds of families displaced by the floods. The could pick out trees, presents for their kids, and decorate Christmas cookies. Among them, the Freedom Quilters of Varina, Iowa, handing out hand-made gifts.

Betty Nielsen has made thousands of quilts for victims of 9-11, the "War on Terror", and Hurricane Katrina.

"I look in their eyes, and I know it means a lot to them," said Nielson.

In all, Betty and her "Freedom Quilters" have stitched together 500 quilts in hopes of stitching together as many lives as possible."

"You never know if you're going to be in their boat," said Nielson. So, she keeps stitching "until the good Lord tells me to stop."

For folks, like Stephanie Wright, they hope Betty never does.

"Thank you for being the angels that we needed," she told the quilters.

St. Luke's also presented hundreds of artificial Christmas trees to flood victims and Walmart gave vouchers for real ones. All to brighten the holidays for people who lost everything in the floods.

"To know that people care that we were effected by the floods and that they would put something together for us," said flood victim Lashay Lekin.

Cargill donated $5,000. And, "Old Navy" organized the drive to collect hundreds of toys for "good little girls, and boys."

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