Red Cross faced with low donations, increased assistance
May 22, 2008
Albany -- It's a frightening and difficult scene: watching your home go up in flames. And it can happen anywhere, at anytime, to anyone.
"The people, they're scared. They really don't have a lot to say except they're frightened," says Mari McEwen, executive director of the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross.
In just the past few weeks, that feeling of fear and helplessness has taken a grip on hundreds of house fire victims here in Southwest Georgia.
"In April we had 14 fires in the 11 counties we serve. Over 58 people were affected by the fire and the cost of our assistance to them was $7,800. And so far in May, we've have 12 fires and 62 people have been affected. The cost of the assistance has been $7,200," says McEwen.
With the cost of victim assistance ranging between $300.00 to $1200.00 per fire, the Red Cross is sometimes the only means of help available to people, who in some cases, have lost everything they owned.
McEwen says, "We can help them if they need a place to stay for a couple of days, food, clothing. We can refer them to other agencies that can supply other things. We can help them if they need to talk to a counselor."
For non-profit agencies like the American Red Cross, private donations make up a large portion of its available funding. But donations have been critically low.
"We are in need right now. As I said, the number of fires has increased and the people affected. We don't want to, and we won't, turn anyone away. We will always do whatever we can," says McEwen.
Some of the reasons that donations are low is due to high prices at the gas pumps and grocery aisles. Donors who were able to give in the past may not have the extra money to do so. But the Red Cross says even small donations go a long way.
If you would like make a donation to the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross, you can mail a check to the address below.
American Red Cross 500 Pine Avenue Albany, GA 31707
To dontate online or learn how you can volunteer for the American Red Cross, click here.