When a major event such as Hurricane Matthew begins to subside, the American Red Cross is just beginning to do their work. And while Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is urging Ohioans to be generous, he is also telling people to exercise caution when responding to requests for donations to help those who have been affected.
“Often funds are set up that are not legitimate,” Debbie Smith, executive director of the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross in Portsmouth, said. “The Red Cross, we are there, we are responding to the Hurricane. We’re currently in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and we have shelters set up in all of those states. Actually it’s over 100 shelters we currently have set up, but we’re also going to be doing relief for all of those who have been affected, assuring that people have a place to stay, to help them get back on their feet if they’ve lost everything, at the Red Cross we provide them with food, clothing, and to help them find a place to be able to stay until they are able to get back into their homes.”
Anyone wishing to donate, can donate to the American Red Cross by mailing a check to “American Red Cross, 1801 Robinson Ave., Portsmouth, Ohio, 45662, or by stopping by their offices at that address, going online to redcross.org or call 1-800-Red Cross.
“We have maybe two (people) that will probably deploy this week, going down there,” Smith said. “The region has already deployed a large amount down there. The need is going to continue there, and with the water still rising in the Carolinas, the flooding has only begun in a lot of areas, so our work has just begun. It’s going to be a long road ahead of us to ensure that everybody is taken care of in all these states.”
Smith said because there is already a lot of people involved in helping volunteers to deploy, they always have a need for additional volunteers, because there is still a number of people helping out in Louisiana with the recent flooding that occurred there.
“The Red Cross as a whole in the United States has been to more disasters this year than we’ve seen in a long time,” Smith said. “Our volunteer base is starting to get depleted so we need additional volunteers.”
Those wanting to volunteer can call the local Red Cross office at 740-354-3293 or go online to redcross.org where they will find information about volunteering and they can fill out the information needed as to what their interest is how they can assist. They can even virtually deploy people who can help to do case work on computers in their own homes.
“I encourage Ohioans to be generous in the wake of this massive storm that has been so destructive in the United States as well as neighboring countries in the Caribbean,” DeWine said. “But please be careful. Unfortunately there are always con artists and scammers who will try to take advantage of Ohioans’ generosity and take the donations for themselves.”
DeWine urged Ohioans to research a charity by visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov to find out if the charity is registered in Ohio. Also, when a charitable organization calls you seeking a donations, the caller must provide the name of the organization and the location of its principal place of business. Professional solicitors calling on behalf of an organization must also provide this basic information, in addition to disclosing the name of the professional solicitor and the fact that the solicitation is being conducted by the caller as a professional solicitor.
If Ohioans suspect charitable fraud or have questions about a charity or professional solicitor, they can call the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-555-1212 or file a compliant online at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.