Red Cross, United Way organize relief effort for hurricane victims
The initial images of Hurricane Katrina have left people across the country in shock and disbelief. Now as time begins to wear on and the horrific extent of the damage becomes evident, people want to help.Here in western Colorado, two direct avenues of getting help to victims are through the American Red Cross and United Way.”The national Red Cross is working with government partners and other charitable (organizations) to coordinate the relief effort,” said Jean Hermanson, executive director of the American Red Cross Western Colorado Chapter, in Grand Junction.Hermanson said contributions to Hurricane Katrina relief can be sent directly to her office, either by mail to 506 Gunnison Ave., Grand Junction, CO 81501; by phone, 970-242-4851 or 1-888-545-7800; or people can donate online by going to http://www.redcross.org.”Any money that comes into this office that is designated for hurricane relief, 100 percent will be sent to our national organization,” Hermanson said. “It’s important that people designate their contribution.”Anyone wishing to contribute directly to the national Red Cross can call 1-800-HELP-NOW.Hermanson said her office has received a number of calls from people who want to donate clothing and food. “We need to decline. We’re not in a position to accept it. We don’t have any way to get them there. We’ve learned after 100 years of disaster relief that it’s problematic. With the volume of stuff that comes in we can’t get it where it’s needed. It ends up being a nightmare at the receiving end because they don’t have structure in place to distribute it, and there are so many other priorities.”What the disaster relief effort needs now is money, Hermanson said.Another way to make donations for hurricane victims is through United Way of Garfield County, said director Leslie Robinson.”Since the fall campaign for United Way of Garfield County is gearing up, people can designate their United Way monthly payroll deduction to go to hurricane relief,” Robinson said. “Many folks cannot sit down and write a $1,000 check. But when you add up their monthly United Way payroll deductions, they can donate that amount and much more over the year.” United Way forwards contributions to organizations directly involved in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.Robinson also urges people to hold fund-raisers if they cannot make cash donations.Send donations to Hurricane Katrina at United Way of Garfield County, P.O. Box 1406, Rifle, CO 81650. For more information about donating to United Way, call Robinson at 625-8189.”Thousands of people are homeless right now. Their basic needs are shelter and having something to eat, but this will be a long-term recovery process,” Hermanson said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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