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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Red Cross: Cash best way to aid tornado victims

BY ALIYYA SWABY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Just days after deadly tornadoes ripped through the area, the Toledo-area American Red Cross has seen such an outpouring of generosity that it now is asking only for money.

The Red Cross also has teamed up with The Blade and WTOL-TV, Channel 11, to get organizations and individuals to take note of the saturation of supplies and instead begin to give cash.

The Red Cross began collecting supplies at All Saints Catholic Church in Rossford on Sunday because it was outside of the affected area and a place where people could make donations more easily, Executive Director Tim Yenrick said. From there, the items were taken to Mainstreet Church in Walbridge to be distributed to communities hit by the storm.

The Red Cross closed down its donation center at All Saints Church yesterday and is no longer collecting clothing or supplies, Mr. Yenrick said.

"We're done collecting anything," he said. "If they call us with a need, we're working with our contacts and we'll pay for it under national guidelines."

Mainstreet Church also announced yesterday on its Web site that it was putting an indefinite hold on any item donations.

It continues to distribute supplies, and it has more than 450 volunteers willing to aid with cleanup and distribution of supplies to tornado victims.

Carolyn Schermbeck, the church's director of communications, said the recovery process is moving into a new phase as federal officials begin to get involved, and the church is trying to give away supplies before it takes in any more.

As a result, Ms. Schermbeck encouraged the donation of gift cards, as well as checks or cash. Today the church will accept volunteers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help with packaging and delivering supplies.

Tornado victims are encouraged to pick up supplies at the church, but few have done so, perhaps because they did not know the option was available to them, Ms. Schermbeck said.

Mainstreet Church serves as a food and clothing pantry for the community, and any supplies left over from the storm disaster will remain there for future needs, she said.

The local Red Cross, separately from other organizations, has collected nearly $60,000 to help tornado victims, Mr. Yenrick said.

He said The Blade and WTOL-TV, Channel 11 will work together with the Red Cross to let people know to donate money.

The Blade will provide free newspapers in affected areas every day for an indefinite period of time as well as trucks to be used for transporting supplies, said Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade.

"Everybody at The Blade is committed to helping the folks who have been devastated by these tornadoes. We'll do everything we can," he said.

The newspaper will run three full-page advertisements, starting today, in the hope that readers will send in checks.

"We encourage everyone who reads The Blade to help by contributing cash, because I think that's what these people need the most of now," Mr. Zerbey said. Any checks sent to The Blade for tornado relief will be forwarded to the Red Cross, he said.

Channel 11 contributed to the effort yesterday with its Road to Recovery fund-raiser.

The station rotated 10 newscasters who accepted donations on Central Avenue, in the parking lot of the Red Cross headquarters, WTOL general manager Bob Chirdon said.

At half-hour intervals, the channel televised its newscasters to let viewers know that they were collecting money for tornado relief, and it ran promotions all day.

As of late yesterday afternoon, Channel 11 had received more than $45,000, including a $30,000 donation from AT&T and numerous individual donations, which will be given to the Red Cross, Mr. Chirdon said.

"We knew a lot of people were anxious to help," he said. "Not everybody can volunteer to be out there with cleanup."

Other organizations also are picking up on the effort.

Passing around a donation box at its lunchtime meeting Monday, the Toledo Rotary Club raised $765 in cash, which President Brad Rubini delivered in person to a Red Cross representative.

Similarly, Charter One announced that it would donate $20,000 to the United Way of Greater Toledo.

Andrew Zepeda - Andrew Z - of 92.5, KISS-FM called on area restaurants and retailers to donate 15 percent of today's sales to tornado relief, and more than 30 agreed to do so.

Contact Aliyya Swaby at:

aswaby@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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