By now, the whole world knows about the devastation visited on the U.S. Gulf Coast by hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year. We all know, too, in painful detail, about the confusion and disorder from government agencies and certain aid organizations that followed immediately after the disaster.

Some of that confusion has not yet entirely abated, and some Americans are still saying the pitiful response from those we should be able to depend on has made them ashamed.

Few, if any, sectors took the brunt harder than schools and colleges in Louisiana and Mississippi. Texas and Alabama felt the repercussions of Rita and Katrina as well. And Florida, traditionally victimized by severe storms, was still reeling from previous hurricanes. Indeed, dozens–if not scores–of states from coast to coast found their resources stretched to the limit by the sudden influx of displaced Gulf Coast students.

Bad news is swift; so most Americans are aware of the dreadful problems that arose in the wake of last year’s disasters.

But good news is another story. Sometimes it just straggles, limping along after the worst has run its course. eSchool Newshas been reporting steadily on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful–but we’ve done so incrementally, as events developed.

Now–at the one-year anniversary of Katrina–eSchool Newsthought it was high time to pull some of the best news together. Too few educators and others appreciate the genuinely remarkable and uplifting facts about how companies large and small, foundations, and leading education associations have been quietly making a difference in the Gulf Coast and beyond.

What they’ve been up to is enough to restore your faith in your fellow citizens. Without expectation of reward or even recognition and at great expense to their organizations and their own business agendas, hundreds of volunteers have rallied to places of need, done what they could to comfort the afflicted, and helped to restore hope to the hopeless. They didn’t wait for government funding or official preachments to do it, but they acted because it needed to be done.

The reports and stories you’ll read and view in the print and electronic versions of this HELP Arrives package–published within the pages of our print newspaper and posted at –are a tribute to the do-it-yourself spirit that has made America great. The events and programs described here are by no means all of the good things that have happened following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They’re not even all the good things the members of the HELP Team have done and are doing. But this eSN Special Report will give you an idea of what’s been happening. And in these days, when turmoil and trouble sometimes seem to be swamping us, it’s one clear, shining example of why we can be hopeful about the human condition.

Yes, there’s much left to do, but perhaps you can pause just briefly, please, to join with eSchool Newsto say, “Congratulations to all those who have volunteered, donated, and HELP-ed. Thank you so much.”

–Gregg W. Downey, Editor & Publisher