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Daily Democrat  - Sept. 2, 2005

Yoloans raising funds for victims

By Rebecca Adler

Cities hit by Hurricane Katrina have seen an outpouring of support from across the nation. Here in Yolo County (CA), citizens have been approaching disaster relief groups offering to volunteer and giving donations throughout the week.

The Wayfarer Center, an organization that helps the homeless, has been receiving phone calls each day from people asking what they can do to help, Leona Jull, executive director at the center said.

She said her group is unable to accept donations so she has been recommending other reliable organizations to those who call in.

"There is a fear to donate to unknown organizations because people are worried that their money won't actually go to the victims," she said.

She recommended giving to the American Red Cross, Gospel Rescue Missions, Operation Blessing, the Salvation Army or United Way.

A Woodland United Way spokeswoman said the local group was not taking donations. She recommended sending money directly to the national United Way via mail or online.

Another organization, the American Muslim Voice a national grassroots advocacy group, urged Muslim Americans to contribute in the relief efforts, expected to be the largest in U.S. history.

Khalid Saeed, president of AMV, of Woodland announced that funds will be collected at the Woodland mosque starting at today's prayer services. He stressed the need to help those who lost everything in this disaster, a sentiment that is shared by others in the organization.

"We need to face this disaster as one nation because we are one family and should feel each others pain. This is a humanitarian issue and a time when all of us need to come together to help our human family," said Samina Faheem Sundas, AMV executive director.

Other national organizations like the American Red Cross have received thousands of dollars in donations.

The Woodland chapter reported Thursday $13,000 in donations specifically for hurricane victims. The organization has also sent four Yolo County residents to Miami and Houston to aid in the disaster relief effort and it has four more waiting to leave sometime during the weekend, said Donna Neu, executive director.

Neu said volunteers are signing up for a minimum seven-day stay but there is no estimated date for the relief effort to be finished. She said she thinks the sheltering operations will be going on for a long time considering rescue workers are still pulling people out of their homes.

Thousands of people have been left without food or shelter after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. New Orleans was one of the most devastated areas when levees broke and flooded the city.

Rescue workers have been evacuating the Superdome in New Orleans for two days. The refugees are being relocated to the Astrodome in Houston, where they will receive a hot shower, a warm meal and a place to sleep.

The first buses left the Superdome late Wednesday, and officials in Texas said 2,000 people had already arrived at the Astrodome, some 350 miles away, by late morning Thursday.

Besides the 25,000 estimated hurricane refugees being brought to Houston, officials said another 25,000 would be taken to San Antonio and other locations.

- For information on how to donate or volunteer locally, contact the Woodland chapter of the Red Cross at 662-4669.

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http://www.dailydemocrat.com/news/ci_2996179