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Support the Red Cross

Once again, in the wake of disaster, Gates County has its &uot;heroes.&uot;

I never cease to be amazed with the people of this county. It seems that no matter where the devastation occurs, they are there ready and willing to pitch in to offer whatever help they can muster.

In the days following the destructive forces of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, it was widely publicized by the American Red Cross that help was needed and needed immediately for the people victimized by that force of nature.

In Gates County, people were standing up to be counted among the thousands across the nation who wanted to send food, clothing, blankets and health and hygiene items down by the truck loads to New Orleans. That wasn’t possible, they quickly learned, because there was simply no way to get anything, even drinking water, in to those victims.

Trapped in the Superdome, some in their homes, and others anywhere they could get above the floodwaters of the Gulf of Mexico and the mighty Mississippi River, the people continue to suffer without even toilets and greatly needed water to drink.

That’s when Linda Stallings of Family Foods Stores came up with a brilliant idea; one that almost always solves, or helps sovlve, problems. She thought to begin collecting cash to send to the Red Cross Disaster Releife fund after hearing a plea on television and radio.

Along with the Family Foods owner, John Lane, and Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Hahne,

Stallings contacted Willie Earle Hofler, Gates County Schools Mainatenace Director, to figure out how to collect all that money. Hofler, Gates County’s premier volunteer, suggested that since LeBlue service the schools, why not ask them to provide bottles to station around the county’s schools. He contacted the company and Gary Sary was pleased to help with 15 water jugs to fill.

Red Cross Representative Carolyn Self and her husband Jim, and Gates County Commissioner J.S. Pierce, Hahne, Hofler and Lane were joined later in the week by the Director of Social Services for the County, Colleen Turner, who wants jugs placed at Swampfest when it opens in October.

The Red Cross working in cooperation with retail stores nationwide through the &uot;Your Help Counts&uot; customer donation program, which is similar to the local water jug campaign devised by Hofler and Hahne. Customers at participating locations can make cash donations in support of those affected by the hurricanes to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and locally, school students and teaching staff at the schools will be pitching in.

Look for the LeBlue water jugs at various locations throughout the county and you are asked by the Red Cross to pitch in all your loose change. Parents can send their donations to school with their student and they can pitch in for parents.

Hofler named the Gates County Campaign to help the New Orleans victims &uot;Winning the Battle for New Orleans&uot; and if this project turns out like those in this county’s past, then the population here can hold their heads high the next time something like Hurricane Isabel strikes our area.

When Isabel smacked Gates County a disabling blow, it took no time at all to get everyone mobilized and on their feet to assist each other in getting the county operational again. I believe in the Red Cross and I believe in our local heroes, the ones who jump in and never ask for thanks or remuneration of any kind. They just want to help. Let’s all get behind them and push this latest effort over the top. Let’s do our part and Win the Battle for New Orleans. Pitch in wherever you see one of LeBlue’s blue jugs.

You can also make your coins count at the following locations;

* Amazon.com

* Apple iTunes.com

* Best Buy Inc. – all stores nationwide are accepting donations

* Coinstar coin-counting machines, located in 10,000 grocery stores nationwide are accepting donations for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, just as they do 365 days per year as part of a long-time partnership.

* Food Lion, LLC has started a customer donation program in all 1,200 stores

* Hard Rock Caf\u00E9, Inc. – all locations are accepting donations

* JP Morgan Chase – all branches nationwide

* Kash N’ Karry/Sweetbay Supermarkets – accepting donations in all Florida stores

* Kroger Co. – accepting donations in 215 stores

* Lowe’s Companies, Inc. introduced a customer donation program in all 1,125 stores nationwide, matching donations up to $1 millions

* OfficeMax North America, Inc. – 900 stores nationwide are accepting donations

* Publix Corporation – accepting donations in all stores

* Ross Stores – accepting donations in 700 stores nationwide

* Winn-Dixie – in all stores