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Salvation Army offers ways for local people to help with disaster relief efforts

For Grandview resident Dale Burgeson, watching the destruction brought on by Hurricane Katrina has hit close to home.

Burgeson, who works as the planned giving director for the Salvation Army, was in Louisiana and Mississippi this past spring.

"I saw my hotel in New Orleans under water," Burgeson said. He added that several of the casinos he had eaten lunch at in Biloxi are now completely destroyed.

Burgeson said seeing the pictures of the area that was hit by the category four hurricane earlier this week leads him to believe that it's going to be a long time before things get cleaned up.

"It's going to take a while," Burgeson said. "It's just mind boggling."

But Burgeson added that since the tragedy hit, he has been keeping busy. He noted that every time his telephone rings it's someone new asking how they can donate to the Salvation Army's disaster relief efforts.

He explained that the Salvation Army has a number of offices located in the south and all throughout the area that was ravaged by the hurricane. According to Burgeson, the best way for Yakima Valley residents to help in the Salvation Army's relief efforts is to send money.

Money sent to the Salvation Army will help the group continue to offer relief to the refugees who are trying to survive the aftermath of the storm.

As floodwaters recede and authorities open roads into effected areas, the Salvation Army is prepared to continue to meet the immediate life sustaining needs of individuals and families in communities tormented by Hurricane Katrina. Over 75 mobile feeding units capable of serving up to 5,000 meals a day are ready to respond in communities throughout Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition to the mobile feeding units, six base camp kitchens are ready to support feeding efforts with the ability to serve up to 20,000 additional meals per day.

"We are prepared to respond to a multitude of needs in many of the communities affected by Hurricane Katrina," said Bill Feist, emergency disaster services director for the Salvation Army's Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi division. "We are anticipating serving a large number of people for a long time. As long as there is a need, the Salvation Army will be there to serve."

As well as mass feeding, the Salvation Army is also prepared to offer emotional and pastoral support to storm weary victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Shanti Hahler, public relations coordinator for the northwest division of the Salvation Army located in Seattle, said she has been receiving calls from across the state from people who want to know how they can help.

She said not only are people calling to find how they can donate money, but they are also asking about putting together fund-raisers to help the Salvation Army's efforts.

"My phone is ringing off the hook from people who want to do fund-raisers," Hahler said. "People in our communities are just gearing up to help. It's been overwhelming, it's wonderful."

Those who are interested in helping the Salvation Army with its hurricane relief efforts can send donations to Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 9219, Seattle, WA 98109, or visit the Salvation Army's website at www.salvationarmynw.org.

Another way people can donate to the Salvation Army's efforts is by watching the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, which will begin airing Monday, Sept. 5, at 7 a.m. on KAPP 35.

It was recently announced that the telethon will dedicate the first and last four hours of the 21-1/2 hour broadcast to raising funds for the Salvation Army's disaster relief efforts. A special 800 number will be used for the hurricane donations, with all of the proceeds going to the Salvation Army's efforts.

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