By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Although nearly 1,000 miles separate the Gateway area and the destruction left behind by Superstorm Sandy, residents and businesses are finding ways to help through the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.
According to the chapter’s executive director, Amber Wood, there are a number of ways residents are helping and can help the disaster relief efforts by working in their own communities.
“We’ve got pretty great supporters,” Wood said. “Every little bit make a difference in disaster response.”
For independent beauty consultant with BeautiControl, Carissa Evans, watching the devastation in the wake of Sandy inspired her to help by contributing a percentage of a sales program.
“My heart has been very heavy watching all the things going on the East Coast,” Evans said. “I’d like to send all sorts of money, but that’s not possible. I’ve decided to turn my sadness into action.”
For the past 18 years, Evans has held an open house for her business before Thanksgiving. During her open house this year on Nov. 15, 16 and 17, 10 percent of her sales will be going to the Red Cross for Superstorm Sandy disaster relief.
Additionally, Evans will offer spa parties to benefit the American Red Cross this month and next. If a customer specifically requests, Evans will donate 25 percent of the profits from the spa party. She can be reached at 357-1319.
“I thought, ‘so what can I do?’ I can do this,” she said. “I’m just not going to put as much into my pockets for now.”
Community State Bank in Fulton will also be working to raise funds for the disaster relief by implementing a customer donor program. For the next couple of weeks, the bank will have donation canisters that will bring in money for the American Red Cross as it helps people deal with what is believed to be billions of dollars of damage.
“Our focus is that one person can make a difference,” Assistant Vice President and branch manager Patti Housenga said.
The group hosted a similar drive in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. When Housenga learned that a local television station would host a telethon to raise money, she decided her company would also help.
“It’s great for them to take the initiative and provide this help from the community,” Wood said.
While financial donations are always welcome, there are a number of other ways Gateway residents can help, Wood said.
With nearly 300 blood drives cancelled due to the storm and more expected, hosting a blood drive or donating blood at one of the weekly blood drives the Gateway Area Red Cross hosts at the old Fulton fire station would help the Red Cross provide help to those on the East Coast. Those interested can call 242-5223 to schedule an appointment.
Businesses can also help by sponsoring an employee giving and matching gift program or placing a Red Cross banner on the company’s web page. Those wishing to help can also text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
“We have a very generous community; these options are how their generosity can be used most effectively,” Wood said.