Charities Learning How to Help - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Hurricane Katrina

Charities Learning How to Help

Charities Learning How to Help
By: CJ Cassidy

From money to food and shelter, to clothing, people in the heartland are coming forward with an outpouring of support.

But now, a nationally-recognized charity rating service, Charity Navigator, says too many relief organizers could add up to one big mess.

Still some volunteers like Angie Brewer of Matthews, says there's still a lot that needs to be done.

"We made a promise to go back down there. We saw things there that they needed," Brewer says, as she prepares for a second trip to disaster ravaged Mississippi.

"Many people went to Wal-Mart and bought diapers and soap, and a lot of them bought canned food to take back with us," she points out going through the dozens of bags stocked up in her church.

Harry Rediger with the American Red Cross, admires the effort of folks like Brewer, but points out food and other supplies could get lost and misdirected, as volunteers and rescue crews struggle among the chaos in devastated areas.

"They're so many times needs of people don't fit what people have donated. So when the Red Cross has a monetary gift they can react to particular needs of evacuees," he explains.

Rediger also points out many of the evacuees needing help are right here in the heartland in places like Camp McClanahan in Kennett.

"Our concern in Southeast Missouri is to take care of people coming up the highway," he says.

Back in Matthews, Angie Brewer's determined to stick to her promise. She says physically volunteering would make her feel a lot better than it would if she simply wrote out a check.

"It's what I wanted to do. It meant a lot to me and the medic I was with. We had a lot more gratitude and thanks than we ever had in our lives," Brewer says.

Brewer and other volunteers also point out that because the focus of rescue efforts appears to be on bigger cities, some of the smaller towns are not getting the help and supplies they need, so they hope to help reach out to those people with the donations they've collected.

If you're still planning on going South to help out, you should make contact with a relief agency in the city you plan to travel to, before you leave.

That way, you are ensured your help is needed there.

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