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Katrina relief efforts continue

Kitsap County is pitching in to help Hurricane Katrina’s victims, donating time, money and personal items in order to provide assistance to the devastated region.

“The reaction has been phenomenal,” said Janet Mayberry, who heads the local Red Cross Chapter. “The amount of people willing to roll up their sleeves and deploy has been amazing. We have a very caring community. There is a feeling that it could be us next time. So the everyone is being very generous.”

The Red Cross doesn’t take material contributions, so anyone who wants to help should donate money.

Mayberry noted that many local groups are doing their own fundraising, and she lauded those efforts, saying they help people to heal. Still, she advised all donors to make sure their contributions are sent directly to the Red Cross or another legitimate organization.

The Red Cross and the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management has begun the process of screening volunteers. This joint effort will evaluate county employees who will be paid by their employer for their time during the terms of their service.

Public works and law enforcement personnel are of considerable value, but all skills are under consideration.

Red Cross volunteers have slightly different requirements and are solicited from the public at large. Mayberry said these volunteers would screened and trained, then used to relieve current workers for two or three weeks at a time.

Mayberry said the local Red Cross is part of the national relief network and is charged with recruiting 200 or 250 local people. The Red Cross will supply transportation, food and lodging, although the latter will be in shelter conditions.

The United Way provides a different donation channel, according to campaign director Tamra Ingwaldson.

“The Red Cross takes care of immediate needs,” she said. “With United Way, the dollars stay in the community, so we can stay viable.”

Unlike the Red Cross, the United Way does collect blankets, clothing and other items for relief efforts. These items may be sent to the region or stored for use by refugees who may come to Kitsap.

“If people come up here we can take some of the edge off of the trauma,” she said.

Ingwaldson expressed enthusiasm for an American Airlines program that allows people to donate frequent flyer miles in order to pay for flights to the affected areas.

Kitsap County spokesperson Lisa Holmer said that a significant number of county employees have answered the call to volunteer. She said the number of employees selected for the program will be determined after completing the screening process.

“We need to make sure the needs of county residents are taken care of,” she said. “We don’t want to drain our employee resources.”

In the meantime, county employees are sponsoring their own fundraising efforts. A raffle conducted by the assessor’s office has already raised $2,500, with the number expected to double.

And the Auditor’s office is holding a lunchtime pizza and hot dog feast on Sept. 23 behind the county courthouse.

The event is open to the public for a minimum $5 donation. The food is provided by Costco and Seabeck Pizza.

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