WASHINGTON – In the wake of last week’s shocking terrorist attacks, donations are pouring in “as fast as we’re able to process them,” according to one Maryland charity.
But state and national officials said they need still more.
“We really appreciate how generous Americans are being,” said Devorah Goldburg, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. “They’ve donated in great waves, giving, time, blood and money. But help is still needed for victims and their families.”
The Red Cross has set up mass care centers to provide blood, shelter, food and grief counseling at Penn and Grand Central stations in New York and at Fort Belvoir, Va., Goldburg said, and will continue to aid survivors in the months to come.
“We provide continuous help. The Red Cross will be there with support for the families for as long as they need it,” Goldburg said.
People across Maryland and the nation have been reaching out to help the victims of the terrorist attacks Tuesday on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, attacks that also led to the crash of a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania.
“We’ve had a tremendous response,” said Linnea Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Central Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross. “Donations are coming in as fast as we’re able to process them.”
But donations of money and blood are still needed — money particularly, say most charities.
“At this time emergency response needs for goods and services have been met. Financial donations for the victims, survivors and their families are essential,” says the message on the New York State Hotline for World Trade Center Disaster Relief. On its web site, the Salvation Army says that gifts in kind are no longer needed.
Online giving makes it possible for web surfers to donate by credit card to some charities at their web sites — and many took advantage of that option last week. Sites like helping.org and yahoo.com allow visitors to give to several charities.
Not all organizations are on the up and up: The Maryland Secretary of State’s office urges donors to beware of fraudulent requests for money.
If an unfamiliar organization asks for a donation, call the state’s charitable giving information program at 1-800-825-4510. Would-be donors can also check http://www.sos.state.md.us/sos/charity/html/search.html to see if a charity is registered with the state.
“That way, when you write out that check you are confident about where the money is going and what it will be used for,” said Nikki Trella, director of the Charities and Legal Services Division of the Secretary of State’s office. The division, which regulates the more than 5,300 charities that collect donations in the state, also says donors should:
— Be wary of requests for immediate funds. The need for financial resources will continue for weeks and months.
— Be cautious about appeals that are strictly emotional and do not include information on what the charity will do to assist rescue efforts or help victims and their families.
— Ask how much of your donation will go to assist victims and how much will go to administrative and fund-raising efforts.
— Ask if the contribution is tax deductible, since fraudulent organizations will not likely be eligible to receive tax deductible donations.
In a prepared statement, Gov. Parris Glendening praised the state’s citizens, and especially emergency personnel, for rallying to help the victims, and encouraged them to keep giving.
“I urge all Marylanders to continue to offer much-needed financial assistance, food, water, medical and emergency services and to continue to donate blood,” the statement said.