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Waynesboro Red Cross chapter to close today

June 30, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro chapter of the American Red Cross closes permanently today, capping a week that has kept volunteers busy as they sheltered Franklin County residents displaced by flooding.

All Red Cross activities now will be managed by the county chapter in Chambersburg, ending the two-chapter system the county used since the beginning of the 20th century.

Residents of the greater Waynesboro area still may call 717-762-5414 or may call the Chambersburg chapter at 717-264-6214.

"The Franklin County chapter is there to provide them any services they need," Chapter Board Chairwoman Diana Sponseller said.

Those services this week included providing nine families with rooms at the Super 8 Motel in Scotland, Pa., then opening a shelter at Chambersburg Area Middle School on Thursday for five additional families. Shelters have food, water, sleeping facilities and an on-duty nurse, Sponseller said.

"Most people don't realize how bad it is for those people," Sponseller said.

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The Red Cross relied on more than 25 of its 200 active volunteers in the county, she said.

"(They) were up to the wee hours of the morning Tuesday night helping the people evacuated," Sponseller said.

In addition to disaster services, volunteers offer lifeguard classes, CPR training and blood services, she said.

The Franklin County chapter, one of 805 nationwide, is expected to hire a new executive director in July. The office then would be fully staffed with two full-time employees and one part-time employee.

The two people who worked in the Waynesboro office were left unemployed by the board's decision to close that chapter, Sponseller said. It is "a little unusual to have two Red Cross offices in one county," she said.

The Red Cross, in its 125th year, responds to nearly 73,000 disasters nationwide, according to www.redcross.org.

A "community presence" initiative has been launched to reorganize Red Cross chapters in attempts to reduce replication of administrative functions such as accounting and human resources.

The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that at the organization's national convention, some chapter representatives left in protest after the reorganization announcement.

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