YOUNGSTOWN If you want to help, here's what victims need

Donations of all kinds are being accepted.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Area residents have been looking to lend a hand to the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks, and local agencies are hoping to put those willing participants to full use.
The American Red Cross, the Second Harvest Food Bank, Rural Metro Ambulance and the Sons of the American Legion Mahoning Valley Squadron 15 are a few of the local agencies sending relief to Washington and New York. They are depending on support from residents to make their efforts successful.
Red Cross representative Jackie Wolf said blood donations have remained high since news of the tragedy broke Tuesday, which is good because the need for blood and blood products will be ongoing. She said platelets in blood have a shelf life of only about five days, so consistent donations will be needed.
"Because the needs of victims change, we need people to consistently donate blood because there will be an ongoing need for it, and we also need for people to donate cash so as the victims' needs become apparent to us we have the funds to address those needs," she said. "The biggest things are money and blood."
Blood shipments: In the past two days, the Red Cross collectively has shipped about 3,200 units of red blood cells to the two Red Cross blood centers closest to New York City and Washington, D.C., where terrorists crashed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Red Cross mental health workers are also available locally for families who may have been affected. For that service, contact the organization's Trumbull County Office.
Joe Christoff of Pleasant Mortgage in Hermitage has teamed with the Mercer County Chapter of the Red Cross to create the Mercer County -- American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Christoff is donating the initial $1,000 to assist in relief efforts and is asking others to follow his lead. Checks can be made payable to the American Red Cross, Disaster Relief Fund and can be dropped off at Pleasant Mortgage on Ellis Avenue in Hermitage or the Mercer County Chapter, American Red Cross on Oakland Avenue in Sharon.
Contributions to the disaster relief fund can also be sent to the Trumbull County chapter, P.O. Box 1390, Warren, 44482-1390. Collection boxes are also available at the Red Cross office, 661 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Warren.
Food and clothes will not be accepted at Red Cross stations. Rebecca Martinez with the Second Harvest Food Bank said that organization is aggressively seeking certain food products that will be in high demand in areas most affected by the disaster.
What's needed: Martinez said beverages, single-serving bottles of water, protein or snack bars, ready-to-eat meals, and paper and plastic products will all be accepted in the organization's office at 1122 Midlothian Blvd., Youngstown.
The organization, which provides food to more than 200 nonprofit organizations in the tri-county area, has been in contact with food banks in Akron and Cleveland in an attempt to collectively distribute the materials where needed. Martinez said directions from the national office will dictate how, where and when the products will be sent.
Other donations: Jeff Vrabel, senior commander of Sons of the American Legion Mahoning Valley Squadron 15, said that organization is looking for donations of new underwear and socks, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other daily necessities including nonperishable food items. The items will be sent to the Red Cross in New York for distribution.
Donations can be made at the Post Home at 35 Cortland St. in Poland between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. through Sept. 21.
Crews from Rural/Metro Ambulance based in Youngstown left the facility on Market Street about 1 a.m. Wednesday to help with the rescue effort in New York City. Seven ambulances and 16 paramedics from the company went to Shea Stadium in New York City.
Three cars were sent from Mercer County and two each from Columbiana and Mahoning counties. They joined forces with 17 other Rural/Metro ambulances from parts of New York for a combined total of 60 company paramedics.
Phil Steele, coordinator of the ambulance company's Disaster Response Team, said the team had not received orders as of late Wednesday afternoon, but were waiting in front of the New York City Fire Department four blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.
Steele said the influx of willing volunteers from around the country is overwhelming, with thousands of rescuers and other help. The Rural Metro team will be on hand for whatever assignment they are given, he said.

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