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Red Cross explains how you can help


November 14, 2012

BETHLEHEM, PA — When disaster hits, people generally leap up to help. Hurricane Sandy was not an exception. But help is most effective when it is coordinated. So here’s what the American Red Cross thinks is helpful:

The best way to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy is to make financial donations. You can do so by visiting www.redcross.org, or by calling 1/800-RED CROSS or texting the words RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. People can also send contributions to their local American Red Cross chapter or the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

The agency says it dedicates 91 cents of every dollar to support disaster victims and any amount is helpful. For example, $3 can provide a comfort kit containing personal hygiene items for someone in a disaster, $6 can cover the cost of a blanket and $10 the cost of a hot meal. A $50 donation can cover food and shelter for a day, including three meals, blankets, comfort kits and the Red Cross expense of mobilizing them in the disaster area. For $150, a donation can cover the cost of providing food and shelter to a family of four for a day they spend in the shelter.

Anyone wishing to hold a fundraiser for the Red Cross should contact their local Red Cross to advise their fundraising personnel of any such events so that they can be sure that people have the materials they will need to conduct the fundraiser.

Financial donations are the quickest and the best way to help people who need it most. The agency is not equipped to handle a large influx of household items, clothing or food that may or may not be useful to victims. It takes time and money to sort, process, transport and distribute donated items, whereas financial donations can be accessed quickly and put to use right away.

However, if you wish to donate food items, the Red Cross recommends contacting your local food bank. To donate clothing or household items, the agency suggests visiting www.nvoad.org for a list of organizations that accept these types of donations.

Anyone wishing to be a Red Cross volunteer should visit www.redcross.org and click on “Ways to Help” to complete an online application, or simply call your local Red Cross unit.