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McCain, Delegates Help Pack 80,000 Comfort Packages for Hurricane Victims

Republican presidential candidate John McCain lent a hand Wednesday, as delegates to the Republican convention took time out to pack supplies for hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast. The looming storm led convention organizers to curtail opening day events Monday and appeal to delegates to focus on gathering aid for the thousands of people in the southern Gulf states who evacuated their homes as the storm approached. Lisa Ferdinando visited delegates who were preparing relief packages at the convention center in the northern city of Minneapolis.

Delegates volunteered their time Wednesday to pack toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, non-perishable food and other essential items for the thousands of affected residents of the Gulf Coast.

Although Hurricane Gustav was not as destructive as originally feared, delegates still volunteered their time Wednesday to help assemble care packages. The Republican Party is working with the American Red Cross and corporations donating goods and services to assemble 80,000 packages.

Judy Zakibe, a delegate from St. Louis, Missouri, was among the volunteers.

"I believe everybody should give back, and I've always done that for 50 years. I would do it anyway, but it's always inspiring when someone says 'Let's everybody come together' and many hands make light work," she said.

The American Red Cross says it is on "high alert" as other storms are heading toward the United States. Jan McDaniel, chief executive of the area American Red Cross chapter, says the 80,000 bags are to be shipped to Louisiana and Mississippi for distribution. "It's hot, they don't have power, so our job is really to make sure they are comforted, they're sheltered and they have food," McDaniel said.

Thousands of people were evacuated from New Orleans as Hurricane Gustav made its way to Louisiana, bringing back painful memories of the Bush administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans three years ago.