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Help the helpers

The Red Cross is in trouble.

When the Twin Towers fell almost a year ago, money, food, and blood were donated in vast quantities - to the Red Cross, for the New York victims. This was praiseworthy on all accounts, but there have been some negative repercussions. Because so many people gave so much, they feel they don't have the means to give more now, either blood or money.

Because there have been some questionable practices in the upper echelons of the Red Cross organizations, some people feel it isn't "safe" to give more. They want to know where their hard-earned money is going, and that it will benefit those in need.

The money stays here. Unless the money given to the Red Cross is earmarked for the New York relief fund, it stays with the local chapter. And here is where it is desperately needed.

Like police officers, drinking water and electricity, the Red Cross is often taken for granted, appreciated only when a terrible need for its services arises. We grumble when taxes are raised to pay for our officers and we grumble when the utility bill arrives - but oh, how we howl when none of those services are there when needed!

Imagine having a loved one ill or dying hundreds of miles away and no way to get there. Imagine a loved one being told there is no hope because there is no blood available for a transfusion. Imagine facing the devastation of a hurricane or tornado without a command center of knowledgeable volunteers to distribute goods and assist the wounded.

It won't be hard to imagine these situations if something isn't done soon. Already the local chapter has faced severe cutbacks in personnel. They face more, even possible closure, if the city, the county, the people of this area do not step in. For all of the help the Red Cross has provided in the past, it is only fair we return the favor, and help it now.

The First Responders have challenged local businesses to make a pledge of $1 per pint of blood donated at the blood drive on August 19. We take up the challenge gladly and ask others to do the same. It is not just a pledge of money, it is a pledge to protect ourselves.