Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Red Cross needs you

Red Cross ready to help victims of apartment fire:
More than 70 Boardwalk Apartments residents sought help from the Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross in the hours after Friday morning’s blaze.

The Red Cross provided clothing vouchers — roughly $130 per person — meals and shelter to fire survivors.

“This is going to be a monumental expense,” said Jane Blocher, the local Red Cross director. “We have never provided assistance at this level before — even the tornado of 2003 was small compared to what the needs of these people will be.”
And of course, the Pakistan quake is important, too.

The link in the side bar will send money to the American Red Cross. Call 843-3550 to donate to the Douglas County chapter. Anyone who needs housing should check with the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority. Two fellow grad students in the museum lost everything in the fire, I'll post more about how to help those in similar situations as opportunities arise.

I want to take this chance to encourage people to go over to the Red Cross's website and sign up to make an automatic monthly donation. Every month, people are left homeless, struck by disasters, needing food, water, clothing and shelter. The Red Cross is usually the first one there, helping when people need it most. Too often, we give money to groups like this post hoc, which means these groups limp from crisis to crisis. The flood of donations after an incident overwhelms them, then dries to a trickle. If you believe in the great work the Red Cross does, why not guarantee them a few dollars a month.

The Red Cross isn't the only good group, and I don't want to be exclusive. Pick your favorite charity. Habitat for Humanity is rebuilding in No Man's Land, and does good work in Douglas County, too. ACORN is fighting to protect the working poor every day, and those are the people most deeply harmed by disasters, whether they're on the scale of Katrina or the size of an apartment fire.

Pick your own. I favor non-sectarian groups, but religious charities do wonderful things, and often have very well developed infrastructure in hard-to-reach parts of the world. In a crisis, that infrastructure can save lives.

Those of you without renter's/homeowner's insurance may want to rethink that choice, too. I don't know if Eli or Raul (the grad students who lost their possession) had insurance, but if they did, they'll get their things back. If not, rebuilding will take time.

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