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Generous Nation: Americans Step Up to Help the Red Cross
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Leslie A. Smith
October 22, 2008

Although it’s hard to name a time when the American Red Cross is not busy, 2008 has been particularly active because of the number and severity of disasters in the United States.

Evacuees filled one of the shelters during Hurricane Gustav.
Evacuees filled one of the shelters during Hurricane Gustav. In response to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike , the Red Cross opened more than 900 shelters, served more than 14 million meals and snacks, deployed more than 20,000 volunteers and provided health and mental health services to tens of thousands of people. Courtesy: Kati Garner American Red Cross.

Early this year as winter melted into spring, the premature onset of tornado season devastated communities and caused the most loss of life since 1998. Spring brought the worst floods in the Midwest in 15 years, and as summer made its debut, wildfires burned in California and the Atlantic hurricane season began.

All this translated into hard times for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which helps cover the costs of providing food, shelter, counseling and other assistance to victims of disasters across the country. Unfortunately, an active hurricane season strained the fund even further. With hardly enough time to catch one’s breath as storm after storm ticked off the letters of the alphabet, the Red Cross kept up the same high level of service—even when the Disaster Relief Fund ran dry.

The Red Cross launched the Campaign for Disaster Relief in early September with the goal of raising $100 million dollars to build the fund back up. Thanks to many generous donors, six weeks later the Campaign for Disaster Relief has reached the $50 million mark.

In addition to thousands of donations from the public, the following corporations have donated $1 million or more to the Hurricanes of 2008 and the Disaster Relief Fund to help the Red Cross meet its goal:

  • BG Group plc
  • BP
  • ExxonMobil
  • Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
  • Shell and Motiva
  • Total S.A.
  • Valero Energy Foundation

An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. During a disaster, a $25 donation provides five blankets at an emergency shelter; $75 covers a medical appointment for an injured individual; and $350 provides one day of emergency food and shelter for 25 disaster victims. Click on How Donations Help Disaster Victims to read more about how your donation helps people in need.


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