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Red Cross seeking a few, good HEROES

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The South Metro Red Cross is holding a three-week fund-raising campaign to raise public awareness of all the services it provides to the community, as well as the money needed to provide those services.

The HEROES campaign began on Thursday, and will last through May 22. The organization's goal is to recruit 50 people in the community, who will be responsible for $1,000 each.

The HEROES campaign makes up only a small portion of the revenue collected by the Red Cross each year, but it is becoming increasingly important as other sources of revenue, such as corporate contributions, begin to stagnate, or, in some cases, decrease, said South Metro Red Cross spokesman Ruben Brown.

"There are many people with big hearts in the South Metro community, but not everyone is able to volunteer their time and go out to a house fire," said campaign co-chairman Pete Nelms. "If you can't actually volunteer, you can still help a family who lost their home ... by becoming a Red Cross HERO, or by sponsoring a HERO with a financial contribution during this campaign."

Last year, the South Metro Red Cross distributed $521,000 in emergency assistance to more than 700 local residents. Only $47,000 was raised by the HEROES campaign in 2007.

Since January, the organization has provided over $72,000 in assistance to more than 130 families in Clayton, Henry, Fayette, and Butts counties, Brown said.

Some ways HEROES can raise money for the South Metro Red Cross include holding "dress down days" at work, or conducting a variety of fund-raising efforts at a school, Brown said.

Home fires are the No. 1 disaster the Red Cross responds to in metro Atlanta. They account for approximately 95 percent of the disasters the Red Cross handles, according to Laurie Kimbrell, the coordinator for the HEROES campaign.

Brown added that the Red Cross responds to "three or four house fires per day" in metro Atlanta.

The Red Cross provides families, whose homes burn down, with services such as food, clothing, counseling, temporary shelter, and various job-related needs. The organization spends an average of $500 per person after a home fire, Brown said.

"Whatever is needed to bridge a person from the disaster to getting back on his or her feet is provided by the Red Cross," he added.

Anyone who wants to sign up for the HEROES campaign can contact Kimbrell at (404) 309-6508

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On the net:

HEROES campaign:

www.southmetroheroes.kintera.org