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SEPT. 11 DONATIONS Red Cross officials reply to criticisms



Published: Tue, November 6, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Concerns about blood being discarded also are raising false alarms, a Red Cross official said.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Officials from Red Cross chapters in Mahoning and Trumbull counties met Monday morning to squelch misconceptions about the way the national agency is using the money donated to the Liberty Fund, established to aid victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

One concern is the amount going to Red Cross administrative costs.

"One thing I heard was that 51 percent of the money was going toward administration," said Cheryl Oblinger, executive director at the Trumbull County chapter.

"That's about the most ridiculous figure I've ever heard."

It's actually about 2 percent, she said.

The administrative cost associated with Sept. 11 is low because services the agency usually pays for have been donated, Oblinger said.

"People can be assured the Red Cross is going to be responsible in the way they use that money," said W. Russell Preston, executive director of the Mahoning chapter.

The money, the local directors said, is going to people, not agency overhead.

Challenges: Echoing what The Vindicator reported Friday, the officials said the Red Cross has received calls from donors concerned about how their money is being used.

Oblinger said the agency is addressing challenges it hasn't had to deal with in other disasters.

Not all of the money has been immediately distributed because some of the victims will continue to need assistance possibly for years, she said.

The Red Cross is also aiding people affected by anthrax, and the agency intends to keep a reserve in case more terrorist attacks occur.

Contributions have been divided into several categories, including immediate disaster relief, family gift and international family gift programs, blood readiness, armed forces emergency services, community outreach and indirect relief costs.

Preston said if donors specified they wanted their donations used for a certain purpose, the agency honored that, but most didn't specify.

Another major concern has been about blood donated to the Red Cross being discarded.

Karen Kelley, manager of communications and marketing for the Red Cross's northern Ohio region blood services, said donated blood regularly is discarded if it exceeds its shelf life.

About 3 percent of donated red blood cells are discarded annually, she said.




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