The situation in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast is horrendous enough that it would be understandable if a guy like Howard Boyd decided there was nothing he could do that would make any real difference.

Here’s a 75-year-old man living on Social Security in a small city in Minnesota, a thousand miles from the suffering and devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. But Boyd decided he could come up with $500 for hurricane relief efforts. Then he decided he could do more.

“I just got up this morning and said ‘I’m going to go out and put the tap on some of these people,’” Boyd said.

Boyd, who is mostly retired from his car upholstery repair business, went to people he had connections with. Mankato Ford committed to match the $500. So did Jerry’s Body Shop and Fromm’s Auto. Boyd said it wasn’t difficult quickly generating $2,000 for victims of the hurricane.

“They’re our brothers,” he said of the refugees to the south. “How close does it have to get to our front door before we do anything?”

A similar attitude was making its way through Elysian, where Tucker’s Tavern will be hosting a Hurricane Relief Party Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Elysian — population 486 — doesn’t have a huge business community, but establishments ranging from the Thirsty Beaver to Trailside Trim to the Pit Stop are supporting the effort.

Businesses and individuals from Mankato, St. Peter, Faribault and elsewhere have also made contributions to the silent auction that will be going on from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Items to be auctioned include area rugs, a Samurai sword (donated by a Minnesota State University student) and numerous business gift certificates.

And Tucker’s, in a tribute to New Orleans, is going to be offering Hurricanes at $5 apiece Saturday with all proceeds going toward storm relief. The fruity drink is a specialty of the Big Easy, said Jayne Larsen, one of the tavern’s owners.

Larsen is optimistic the day will generate a sizable donation to the Red Cross.

“Hopefully we can make a bigger dent than you would think for a small town in southern Minnesota,” Larsen said.

Among the latest relief efforts being organized in Mankato is the Storm Aid Relief Challenge. Organized by local Clear Channel Radio stations (Country 103, KXLP and KYSM/The Fan) in conjunction with Wells Fargo, Hickory Tech, The Free Press and others, the event will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

A phone bank will be set up by Hickory Tech, the radio stations will be inviting businesses and people to phone in pledges, volunteers will send pledge envelopes out and Wells Fargo will handle the money — all of which will go to the Red Cross.

“There are all these people coming to the table to help,” said JO Guck Bailey, general manager of Clear Channel’s Mankato stations. “It’s really been cool.”

If Boyd’s efforts are any indication, each of the relief efforts will generate impressive generosity. Take Janis Fromm of Fromm’s Auto who said she didn’t hesitate a second when Boyd wandered in Thursday suggesting she part with $500.

“I never thought twice about it,” Fromm said. “Everybody should do something.”

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