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Volunteers with the local American Red Cross chapter will be out in force from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday soliciting donations from shoppers at Wal-Mart during Red Cross Day of Caring.
Local director Gina Amato said March is Red Cross Month and the day was set up to let the community know what its local chapter does. An Emergency Response Vehicle will be on display and an information booth will be set up.
“It’s more about raising awareness than anything else, not to say we haven’t had our share of that lately,” Amato said, making reference to the theft of the agency’s $5,000 trailer on March 7.
The trailer was loaded with a generator, sleeping cots, tables and other items the Red Cross uses when responding to fires and other emergencies.
York Electric Cooperative Inc. is giving the Lancaster area Red Cross $5,000 to buy a new trailer, but Amato said there are other needs, too.
She said the funds are needed to support families recovering from disasters.
Amato said last year’s total expenses for local disaster relief exceeded $15,000:
u From July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, the agency assisted 39 families (129 people).
u From July 1, 2008, through Feb. 16, 2009, the Red Cross has already provided direct assistance to 35 families (127 people). That includes food, shelter, clothing, medication, first month’s rent and utility deposits.
Darren Player, deputy director for Lancaster County Emergency Management/Fire Services, said it’s hard to put a price tag on Red Cross services.
“A lot of times, they show up at disaster scenes with food and drinks when we’re just totally exhausted,” Player said. “Whenever a family loses their home, they help them get back on their feet. Anytime we call the Red Cross, they always come.”
Amato said the money collected by volunteers stationed at the Wal-Mart doors Saturday will be used to help families rebuild their lives after house fires, storms and tornadoes. She said whenever these families need food, new clothes and a temporary places to stay, the Red Cross is there.
“Donations are down, but we must and will continue to help our families in need,” Amato said.