DISASTER RELIEF Valley's Red Cross urges continued donations

Volunteer ranks have surged since the terrorist attacks and relief effort.
Red Cross officials in the Mahoning Valley say the local response in donations to the relief efforts in New York and Washington has been great, but area residents should keep the dollars rolling in.
"The big thing right now is the generosity of people has been really great," said Tim Settles, Red Cross director of emergency services.
"We suggest people continue to make monetary donations. That will be greatly appreciated."
The Red Cross is still not accepting material donations.
Money collected by the agency is deposited in the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, Settles said. It is disseminated on a case-by-case, as-needed basis.
The organization is looking for continued monetary donations because the attacks in New York and Washington have caused the Red Cross to extend its helping hands beyond its usual scope.
Where the money goes: In most cases, Settles said, the organization offers food, shelter and clothing to those struck by disaster. It is seeking to assist not only those families without the basic necessities, but also families suffering a loss of income from the Sept. 11 attacks, Settles added.
"Through the Liberty Fund we have established, there is still a continued effort there to address each family's needs and support loss of income and anything else they may need assistance with."
Settles said the attacks occurred in the heart of a business district, causing loss of income and other means of support for many families.
Local disaster plans: The Red Cross also is encouraging area families to be prepared for any level of disaster with an in-home disaster plan.
Area residents also are donating their time to help the victims of the attacks.
An introduction to disaster services course conducted by the Red Cross last week drew about 25 participants and more than 30 the previous week.
"We had one in August, and we had six people," Settles said.
The three-hour class provides an overview of how the agency responds to disasters. It's an initial course for people who want to volunteer through the Red Cross at disaster sites.
Helping out: The tragedy and press coverage of the relief effort by the Red Cross and other agencies produced the onslaught of people wanting to help, he added.
Volunteers such as Peter Orfanos of Warren and John and Marian Scott of Cortland, who volunteered in the relief effort in New York, participated in several courses including mass-care functions, sheltering operations and supervisory information.
The Red Cross also has a Disaster Action Team. DAT members alternate, being on call 24 hours a day.
"They meet with family members at the scene and really wear several hats at the same time," Settles said.
DAT includes about 25 people.
"I'd like to see that double," he said, adding that the volunteer momentum may help that effort.