Red Cross soliciting hurricane donations

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 1, 2005

As floodwaters continue rising over rooftops in Louisiana and Mississippi, the American Red Cross’s Suffolk office is being flooded with calls from local residents wanting to help.

The agency is welcoming contributions – both financial and volunteer – to help victims of Hurricane Katrina begin to rebuild their lives, said Faye Byrum, executive director of organization’s chapter in Suffolk.

With rescue efforts just getting under way, Katrina is already one of the most deadly and costly hurricanes to ever strike the East Coast. Thus far, Suffolk residents have contributed about $1,000 for Katrina’s victims, Byrum said.

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&uot;We’ve had tons of calls about contributions already,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more come in within the next few days.

&uot;Suffolk residents have always been phenomenal about stepping up to the plate to provide relief for victims of natural disasters.&uot;

The agency is also gearing up to send volunteers from Suffolk southward to help with recovery efforts, she said.

&uot;People need to realize these are hardship assignments,&uot; she said. &uot;Our volunteers will probably be living under the same conditions as the victims in the shelters.&uot;

Volunteers will be given a crash course on mass care of disaster victims before leaving, Byrum said. They will be expected to help with feeding and dispensing emergency comfort kits to victims.

Volunteers have to be over age 18, in good health and willing to commit to serving for at least three weeks, Byrum said. So far, four people have signed up.

Byrum warned people to be cautious of scams when making contributions to charitable organizations.

Contributions for the victims of Hurricane Katrina can be made to the American Red Cross, earmarked on the memo line &uot;Hurricane Katrina&uot; and mailed to the chapter at P. O. Box 129, Suffolk, Va.

23439-0129. Donations can also be dropped off at the office at 1091/2 Clay Street. Internet users can make a secure online credit card donation by visiting

The Red Cross is accepting only monetary donations, she said.

Call 539-6645 for additional details.

Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to the Suffolk Chapter, American Red Cross, P.O. Box 129, Suffolk, Va. 23439-0129, or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013