East Calhoun family raises money for hurricane victims with cookies

With Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the Gulf Coast region, many around Southwest are finding ways to raise money and help in the relief effort.

East Calhoun resident Courtney Cushing Kiernat, mother of Lucy, 4, and Quinn, 6, said in the wake of tragedies such as 9/11, the Indian Ocean tsunami and Katrina, it's been tricky for her as a parent in deciding how much her kids should know.

While she was able to shelter them from news of the 9/11 terror attacks, Kiernat said with the recent disasters on the news she's trying to find new ways to approach the subject.

"To filter it is key for us," she said.

One way the family is confronting the issue is by raising money by selling cookies to neighbors. To date, Lucy and Quinn have raised nearly $1,000 for cookies sold and general donations to be sent to the Red Cross.

Cushing Kiernat and husband R.B. Kiernat are matching the money raised for cookies sold, more than $600 so far. Also, R.B. Kiernat's employer, an investment-banking firm Goldsmith, Agio & Helms, will match the Kiernat's contribution.

The cookies, made by Lucy and Quinn, are $5 for six cookies and $10 for a dozen.

"Me and Lucy keep looking [at magazine pictures of hurricane victims]," Quinn said. "We sent out a big e-mail to a lot of people, so we can raise money for the hurricane [victims]."

Cushing Kiernat explained that Quinn's school, Kenwood Elementary, 2013 Penn Ave. S., raised money for tsunami victims earlier in the year by baking and selling cookies. She said she thought it was a good way to teach the kids about a tragic event, so they were inspired to bake in the wake of Katrina.

"We were trying to figure out how to explain the impact and how to help other people," Cushing Kiernat said.

She said the response has been great.

"People have been giving larger checks," she said, some in the hundreds of dollars. "It's been nice. It's been good for the kids to see."

She said she's also seen neighbors collecting clothes and trying to find ways to help the victims and make a difference.

Cushing Kiernat said she hopes her kids will learn the value of good deeds.

When asked about how long they'll continue to bake, Cushing Kiernat said, "We're still filling orders."

Lucy Kiernat seemed intent on baking for a while longer and replied, "Until they stop talking about [Hurricane Katrina] on the radio."

Interested in finding your own way to help in the relief effort? The city of Minneapolis home page, www.ci.minneapolis.

mn.us, has a list of groups you can assist.