Release: American Red Cross Launches National Fundraising Campaign

American Red Cross Launches National Fundraising Campaign

Goal to Raise Initial $100 Million for Disaster Relief Fund

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2008 – As Hurricane Ike continues its path towards the United States, threatening families along the Gulf Coast with potentially damaging winds and torrential rain, the American Red Cross is launching a national fundraising campaign to raise an initial $100 million to fill a Disaster Relief Fund depleted after an active year of disasters.

The Disaster Relief Fund allows the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to help victims of disasters meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, counseling and other critical services. The Red Cross responds to 70,000 disasters each year – the majority of them “silent” disasters never making the news. After tragedy strikes, the Red Cross relies on this fund to mobilize volunteers and resources to help communities throughout the United States.

“The Red Cross is always there when disaster strikes, but this year has been an active disaster year and the cost of providing relief has rapidly outpaced contributions,” said Gail McGovern, American Red Cross President and CEO. “We sheltered more people during the first nights of Hurricane Gustav than the first days of Katrina. While the media has packed up and moved on, we are still there helping a large number of people.”

“The American people have always responded generously to support their neighbors during their time of need, and I urge all Americans to join together and make a contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund today. No matter how small, every donation can change a life.”

The Red Cross is taking many steps to reduce its disaster response costs including consolidating warehouse space, using technology to further automate its casework process and placing a greater emphasis on deploying local volunteers and leveraging community partner resources.

Since January 2008, Red Cross volunteers have responded to thousands of house fires and more than 60 large-scale disasters -including a record number of tornadoes, the worst flooding in the Midwest in 15 years, and early wildfire season and an active hurricane season that is not over yet. Expenses for Hurricane Gustav alone are estimated in the $40M – $70M dollar range for the Red Cross and the organization has only raised a fraction of what is needed to support affected families.

As the Red Cross continues helping individuals and families battered by the 2008 storms and hurricanes: Dolly, Ernesto, Fay, Gustav and Hanna, it is also actively preparing to respond to Hurricane Ike by mobilizing trained volunteers and pre-positioning disaster supplies.

In the interim, the Red Cross is borrowing money to cover the costs of the hurricanes of 2008. Despite this, the Red Cross has not cut any of its services to disaster victims and does not expect to do so.

While the organization is initially striving to raise $100 million to help those in need, the Red Cross is in the midst of both hurricane and wildfire season and does not know what the future will bring.

You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. You can log-on to http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) to make a donation. You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” to “2HELP” (24357). You can send multiple donations depending on your carrier. Contributions will appear on monthly bills or be debited from a prepaid account balance. All applicable text rates apply.

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