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Katrina's victims need help from local people

September 01, 2005

With more than 100 dead and entire cities along the U.S. Gulf Coast flooded out, Hurricane Katrina ranks as one of the most devastating storms of the last 40 years.

Damage estimates are in the billions and those who have lost power, fresh water and even their homes number in the hundreds of thousands.

We have a simple request: If you can make a donation, no matter how small, please do.

On Tuesday, the American Red Cross announced it was sending 2,000 volunteers to the storm-damaged region.

A spokesman for the organization called it the largest mobilization of resources for a single natural disaster. In addition to the volunteers who will be sent, more than 250 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) will be dispatched to send food and water to victims of the storm.

To make a contribution to the relief effort, call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (for speakers of Spanish).

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Or you may send donations to the Disaster Relief Fund, through the local American Red Cross chapter, located at 1131 Conrad Court, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

The Salvation Army is also participating in the relief effort with four of its divisions operating in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida - the states hardest hit by Katrina.

At this time, Salvation Army officials in Hagerstown say the organization is accepting monetary gifts only, because many of the affected areas are still under water. Until the flood waters recede, items such as mops and buckets can't be of much use, they said.

In this first phase of the relief effort, the Salvation Army will set up canteens to offer food, water, spiritual support and counseling to relief workers. But if someone else with a dire need approaches the canteen for help, Salvation Army officials say they will render whatever assistance they can.

If you can help, send your donations to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 747, Hagerstown, Md., 21741. Please mark your check "hurricane relief."

If you would prefer to donate online, please go to www.salvationarmy.org.

With the increasing price of gasoline and home-heating oil, it may be difficult for some families to think about making a donation.

Consider this: Unlike Katrina's victims, you have a car to put that gasoline in and your home, although it may be more costly to heat this winter, is still standing.

Put yourself in the victims' shoes and remember this: Sometime in the future, it could be you or a member of your family who needs help.

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