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Red Cross seeks to raise $75,000 for disaster-response programs

With war looming on the horizon and rising concern about terrorist attacks, the Red Cross has more work than usual these days.

Over the next month, the Red Cross's Rogue Valley chapter wants to raise &

36;75,000 to continue its disaster-response programs and to provide support for the families of local men and women in the armed services.

The annual special campaign is one of the local chapter's largest sources of funds. For the year that ended June 30, 2002, the special campaign provided 15.4 percent of the agency's &

36;423,000 budget. Support from the United Way provided 16.2 percent.

The United Way contribution does not account for all the funds needed locally, said Marj Jameson, executive director of the Rogue Valley chapter. Without running our own special campaign, the Red Cross would not be able to continue to provide critical services to this community.

Jameson said the annual fund-raising drive enables the Rogue Valley chapter to respond to regional disasters and emergencies such as house fires and floods. It also provides money to open temporary shelters for travelers when highways are closed during winter storms.

Jameson said the local Red Cross serves as an information pipeline between Rogue Valley soldiers overseas and their families. For example, when local National Guard soldiers were deployed to the Sinai peninsula, the Red Cross informed soldiers when a family member at home fell ill or a new baby was born.

Since there are Red Cross offices virtually everywhere, we're the perfect conduit, she said.

The Red Cross also provides counseling for family members who have problems coping with life at home while soldiers are serving abroad.

Sometimes it's just a matter of having someone to talk to, she said.

On the home front, Jameson said the local chapter will be scheduling classes in the spring to help families cope with natural and man-made disasters. The Together We Prepare campaign will encourage families to make a disaster plan, build a survival kit, get disaster training and give blood.

Jameson said concern about terrorist attacks has fueled disaster-preparedness campaigns in large urban areas, but making a disaster plan makes sense in Southern Oregon, too. She noted that flooding in 1997, for example, left some people isolated for days.

The number of people affected was relatively small, she said, but something like that makes you realize it could happen to anybody.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail

For more information about the Red Cross fund-raising campaign, call 779-3773.