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THE REGION Area offers prayers and aid



Published: Thu, September 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



VINDICATOR STAFF REPORTS

Prayers and offers of services, along with donations of blood and money, are pouring in.

Several area churches are holding prayer services and around-the-clock vigils to pray for victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks and their families.

They're also praying for rescue workers, government leaders, the nation and world peace, said the Rev. Kenneth L. Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, Youngstown. A prayer vigil is held at his church from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with special prayer services at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

"We want to show support and help people get through this ordeal," Simon said.

Local churches are also poised to offer manpower and material support once it is clear what is needed. "We're on standby. We can activate a lot of people as soon as we know what needs to be done," said the Rev. Jay Alford, pastor of Highway Tabernacle, Austintown.

His church is open around-the-clock for a prayer vigil; prayer services are held at 7 p.m.

Catholic Charities is accepting monetary donations to be distributed through Catholic Charities USA to member agencies in New York and Arlington, Va. The funds will likely be used to help pay for bereavement counseling for families of victims killed in the terrorist attacks. Donations may be sent to the Office of Social Action/Disaster Response, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Youngstown, 144 W. Wood St., Youngstown, Ohio 44503

About 150 firefighters from some 25 fire departments in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana are poised for volunteer duty in New York City.

Howland Fire Chief George Brown said that in addition to the fire departments, the emergency response team at General Motors in Lordstown and Lane Live Trans have asked to participate.

Brown explained that it might be "a couple days" until it's determined if they will be needed.

The New York Emergency Operations Center will contact the Ohio Emergency Operations Center in Columbus, which will inform the Valley firefighters.

"We're ready to go," said Liberty Fire Chief Robert Catchpole, noting the firefighters have a bus, supplies and manpower to help.

Liberty firefighters began collecting bottled water and nonperishable food on Tuesday so that they would be able to take at least one truckload of food and supplies with them, Catchpole said. "We've been swamped with donations. It's more than we can handle so we're not taking any more until we know if and when we're going. With the response we've gotten, we could fill a truck instantly with people, food, money -- anything that's needed."

James Thompson, director of Mercer County's Emergency Management Agency in Pennsylvania, said a number of volunteer fire companies in his area, including Transfer, Stoneboro and Sandy Lake, have offered to send equipment and crews to New York.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating those efforts, Thompson said.

Four Sharon Regional Health System doctors are packed and ready to rush to New York City if their services are needed to care for those injured.

Dr. Sergio Segarra, head of emergency medicine; Dr. Glenn Charlton, a physician in the Emergency Care Center; Dr. James Landis, head of the hospital's Heart Center; and Dr. Gregory George, a family practice physician; have all volunteered.

"Our cars are packed and we're ready to go," Dr. Segarra said Wednesday. "We're waiting to hear if they need us and where they want us to go."

Dr. Segarra said he has spoken with doctors in New York City and they are working around the clock. Volunteers could be brought in to relieve them or to help with the routine emergency cases New York hospitals get every day, he said.

He believes hundreds, if not thousands, of physicians have volunteered their services and more might not be needed right now.

Dr. Segarra said he and his fellow local doctors offered their help through the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania.

Ohio United Way and Ohio Grantmakers Forum are promoting The Sept. 11 Fund, created by the United Way of New York City and the New York Community Trust to help victims of Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

The fund will provide immediate support to established emergency assistance agencies such as the American Red Cross and will bring together other nonprofit health and human services agencies.

Donations to the fund should be sent in care of the United Way of New York City, 2 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016. Contributions are also accepted online at www.uwnyc.org. For more information call (212) 251-4035. Donors may specify which city they want their gift to benefit.

The Ohio Grantmakers Forum has more than 200 members including community, private, family and corporate foundations. The Ohio United Way, established in 1913, works to improve quality of life for individuals through public policy development, advocacy and support for 100 local United Way agencies.

Despite a long wait to donate, people who live and work in the New Castle, Pa., community, including busy executives, turned out in large numbers Wednesday to give blood in a six-hour emergency drive at St. Mary's Parish Center in the downtown area.

Some 60 people were in line when the drive, hastily organized to help those injured in Tuesday's New York and Washington terrorist attacks, began at noon, and 165 had appeared by 1 p.m., including several students from New Castle High School.

Although 300 people appeared to donate, waiting time of up to four hours because of a staff shortage reduced the number of pints of blood collected to only 136. But 136 people who couldn't wait Wednesday signed up to donate blood next week, said Tony DeCaprio, executive director of the American Red Cross, Lawrence County Chapter.

An estimated $1,000 in unsolicited cash donations to the Red Cross for disaster relief was collected during the blood drive, DeCaprio said.

Blood and cash donations are most needed to assist the victims, and the Red Cross is discouraging other types of donations, such as food and clothing, because storage and transportation capacity is lacking locally, he said.

Slippery Rock University organized continuous free round trip bus service from noon to 7 p.m. today from the University Union to the Central Blood Bank in Grove City for students, faculty and staff wanting to donate blood.

St. Mary's Church devoted its 7 a.m. Mass, an all-day prayer vigil, and a 7 p.m. closing prayer service to the victims on Wednesday.

Slippery Rock University conducted a Wednesday evening candlelight vigil on campus to honor those killed or injured in the terrorist attacks.




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