Teams that REALLY need our help

All –

Earlier this week members of Team 116 delivered some materials to Team 364 in Gulfport, Mississippi, to help them rebuild their shop facility that was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. While there, we went through the south Mississippi coast and over to New Orleans. The video you may have seen on television and the images in the newspapers do not even begin to convey to enormity and totality of the devastation in this area. It is impossible to comprehend what has happened there without seeing it through your own eyes, even three and a half months after the hurricane. As bad as you may think it is along the Gulf Coast, the reality is much, much worse.

In the midst of all that has happened, there are teams from Louisiana and Mississippi that are absolutely committed to participating in FIRST this upcoming season. These teams have lost facilities and supplies from prior years, and are trying to rebuild their resources. In some cases they have lost their schools, so the teams are reforming in new locations. For some of them, their previous sponsor companies no longer exist and they are struggling to recruit mentors. Yet the desire to get back into the program, and get back to something approaching a “normal” activity, is so strong that they have actually been able to not just get the old teams back together, but to actually build new rookie teams and bring new students to FIRST this year. Their determination and perseverance in the face of incredible hardship is one of the most truly inspirational behaviors that I have ever seen.

We have worked with NASA to provide many of these teams with financial resources sufficient to cover their registration costs and basic expenses. But many of them are short on supplies, materials, spare parts, tools, and many other basic items that are needed to have a successful team. So this is where you come in. Do you have a pile of spare, but usable, parts scavenged from the robots of prior years? Do you have fourteen extra Phillips screwdrivers in your toolkits? Do you have an extra four or five pounds of wire tie wraps? How about extra gears that you thought you were going to use but never did? Did someone on your control team make a mistake and buy six extra multi-meters? All of these items, and many more, would be wonderful items to consider donating to the Gulf Coast teams to help them get back into the competition. We have worked with Katie Wallace at the NASA Stennis Space Center to set up a central collection location. Any items for the teams can be sent to:

Katie Wallace
Building 1100, Rm 322J
Stennis Space Center
SSC, MS 39529

Katie is working with all the teams in the area and passing on donated items to the teams as they come in. Also, any teams attending either the Slidell, LA or Houston, TX Regional Kick-Off events can bring supplies, donations and materials to those events and they will be passed on to the Gulf Coast teams. In addition, please feel free to contact any of the affected teams directly to see what materials they may need the most. In some cases, the biggest need may be for team-to-team mentoring. In that case, the most helpful thing that you can do is to “adopt” one of the affected teams and help remotely mentor them during the build and competition season. Answering questions, solving problems, recommending resources, suggesting design ideas, and providing expert advice will be enormously valuable to some of the new rookie teams, and most appreciated.

On behalf of all the teams affected by Katrina, thank you for your consideration.


p.s. Example items that have specifically been requested include:
Tools - Dremel tools and/or attachments, multi-meters, soldering irons or guns, wire strippers, crimpers, hand tools, etc.
Parts - crimp on connectors, tie wraps, velcro, plexiglass, nuts, bolts, washers, spare parts for constructing prototype robots (extra motors, control electronics, speed controllers, pneumatics, transmissions, etc.)
Supplies - aluminum plate (thinner gages, 20 - 24), #25 and #35 chain for gearing, pulley and belt sets, sprockets, etc.

p.p.s. Some of the teams that were particularly hard-hit by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, but will still be participating in this year’s program, include:
Team 364 - Gulfport High School Technology, Gulfport MS
Team 462 - Provine High School, Jackson MS
Team 590 - Choctaw Central High School, Choctaw MS
Team 1421 - Picayune High School/Pearl River, Picayune MS
Team 1472 - Scotlandville Magnet High School, Baton Rouge LA
Team 1858 - Salmen High School, Slidell LA **
Team 1859 - Bogalusa High School, Bogalusa LA **
Team 1912 - Northshore High School, Slidell LA **
Team 1913 - Covington High School, Covington LA **
Team 1920 - McMain Magnet School, New Orleans LA **
Team 1927 - Mercy Cross High School, Biloxi MS **

** New rookie teams that have formed with students displaced from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who are no longer able to attend their former schools.

Thank you so much for drawing attention to these teams, Dave. I am very surprised that no one has posted acknowledgment yet. Team 269 will make a sincere effort to rustle up some spare parts before the Kickoff.

Just a quick question, is there a special way that the parts should be shipped (ie. wrapped in plastic or in plastic containers within boxes)?

Same here–I’m going to do my best to round up whatever can be rounded up here in Colatown.

Here’s hoping that the Gulf Coast teams get everything they need from Lavery Claus this year!

Although I don’t have anything to offer as far as physical parts, I do have programming knowledge that I am willing to pass onto a team that was affected by Katrina. If you are in need of programming help, please email me at and we will talk.

Depending on the tools/parts/supplies to be shipped, just package them appropriately to ensure that they are not damaged and will arrive safely. The packing crates from the FIRST Kit Of Parts (most teams seem to have ten or fifteen of these things lying around their shops) make great reusable shipping containers, and they can hold a lot of tools/parts/supplies. Just fill 'em up, wire tie them closed, slap a shipping label on the outside, and you are all set.

Due to the size of the load and and number of creates involved, we ended up driving our load down to Gulfport, MS. But I do not recommend this solution unless you are really desperate for a road trip. A 2388 mile round trip in 45 hours is a lot of driving, and it requires a VERY substantial supply of caffeine! :slight_smile:


If teams want to send materials, tools, ect directly to the school(s) listed, is that information listed on the team registry on the FIRST website?

If it isn’t - Where can those addresses be posted?

I’d like to get some things together and send them but I’m concerned about the schools being closed and no one being there to accept it.

We could wait until school is back in after the holidays, but I’d like it to be there by the kickoff or shortly afterwards.

Mike Aubry
Team 47

Here’s a request to the teams and persons planning on sending help their way: Post here in this thread what you send and when you send it.

That way, they don’t end up with 23 multimeters and no Dremels. :slight_smile:

I think that is also the reason why Dave told us to send everything to Katie Wallace at the NASA Stennis Space Center where it can be distributed to teams. :wink:

Once it’s already bought for a team and shipped out there, it’s hard for another team to know it. If Team A and Team B (who are on opposite sides of the country) bought 11 Dremels each and sent them out there for Ms. Wallace to distribute, neither team could have known they duplicated something where they could have bought something else from the list.

This way, we can make sure that the teams receive the most from their list that the FIRST community can give them, without overbuying in one area or another. Makes sense on the distribution standpoint and helps teams to help those in the Gulf Coast get all the things they need for a successful season.

It feels good to help people. We should all do it more often, and these 11 teams are certainly in need. Teams, take note! :slight_smile:

Ahh, OK. Sorry Amanda, I read your post wrong. If my team has some extra money I will talk to them about possible donating some tools/supplies!

I think Dave’s request is for items that your team has in excess (tools and parts). If you are collecting funds to buy stuff for these teams, you probably will help them best by sending the cash or some gift cards from Home Depot or Lowes. That way the team could decide which items they need most after they receive the excess stuff from other teams.

Money is always helpful to a needy team.

I can remote mentor any of the teams that need it

I cannot speak for our Team 1245, because they are out for Winter Break until the kickoff, however I can speak for the huge amount of robot stuff in my two car garage.

I will send some titanium round tubing, various wire, aluminum diamond plate, polycarbonate, and various pneumatic parts and #35 gear sprockets, and exelite nut drivers.

It should arrive just about at Christmas.

If you really feel like giving me back some thanks, send back a picture with any item in use on a robot.

barry (at)

I have points of contact at each of the affected Gulf Coast teams. However, I can’t publicly post that information without their prior consent. I will get in touch with them and see if they are OK with posting their contact info. In the mean time, if there are particular teams that you would like to reach, send me a note and I will pass it along to the team contacts.

Since the schools are closing for the holidays (some in fact are already closed), we recommend you send materials to Katie Wallace at the NASA Stennis address. They will be accepting materials through the holidays, can store the materials locally, and will pass donations along to the teams as soon as the schools re-open.

Amanda’s point is a good one. I can guarantee that everything sent will be thankfully used by the teams, as they need pretty much everything in most cases. However, if we can “load balance” between the multimeters and tools and speed controllers, etc, it would be appreciated.

Again, thank you to everyone that is able to help these teams and their efforts.


We (TechnoKats) plan on filling a tote or two with parts and then send them to Katie at NASA Stennis.

With all of this in mind, I see an opportunity.

Every day, hundreds of RV trailers pass through Kokomo*. 99% of them are being transported to the Gulf Coast Area. They have been bought by FEMA and will be temporary housing for those who have no place to call home. These trailers are all made in Northern Indiana (on the border of Michigan), and Kokomo is in route to their final destination in the Gulf Coast area.

Imagine a trail of ants travelling back and forth between their anthill and a large food source. This is the same, but on a larger scale.

I assume that all of these trailers are mostly empty. Also, they are all being pulled by pickup trucks with empty beds. This is a potential to transport lots of stuff to the Gulf Coast area. I would like to throw a tote (or a hundred of them) in the back of these trucks as they go down, and then have someone on one of these FIRST teams in the devastated area meet up with this truck and trailer when it gets down there.

In a world with no red tape, this could work. I have no idea how to go about doing this, but someone may have a contact that could help make this happen. It could happen not only in Kokomo, but anywhere along this route between northern Indiana and the Gulf Coast area. Does anyone know who is coordinating this trail of trailers?

Andy B.

    • I estimate 1 trailer passes through here each minute or two, during daylight hours. This could be as high as 1,000 each day. It’s been happening for the past 4-6 weeks. All of these trailers have a federal FEMA sticker in the window. There are “FEMA drivers - free coffee” signs in local businesses. You can’t drive on hwy. 31 without seeing one of these trailers.

At the moment, we have one overflowing bin of wheels (pneumatic, airless, and casters - all in sets of 4), sprockets, a few van door motors, the transmissions and chassis from the 2005 KOP, and a goodly amount of black pneumatics tubing and bearings.

If any other southeastern WI teams are considering shipping materials as well, drop me a PM and perhaps we can pool our materials at the WCTC Kickoff and split the shipping costs for everyone. Any takers?

Thanks for your efforts and to Dave for posting this. I’m with 364 and mentioned this thread to Katie Wallace. She has been getting boxes of things and is sorting through it all. Thanks Again

I hope the teams get the things they need to be able to compete and to continue. I love to see teams helping teams. Even at the competitions bring your spare parts because you may have the exact part that another team was not able to find or afford and you could help another robot compete and a team have a great expereience.