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Here are some key ways to help the struggling victims of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in American history:

OPERATION BLESSING / 700 CLUB: TV’s 700 Club’s Operation Blessing teams are on the ground in the storm-ravaged regions of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Even before Katrina struck, OBI tractor trailer trucks were already on the move, ensuring partner agencies were stocked with emergency relief supplies for immediate distribution. OBI is now collaborating with emergency officials and making final assessments of the heavily impacted areas. Together with partner agencies like the Salvation Army, a large-scale disaster response is unfolding. Truckloads of food and mobile kitchen equipment have been delivered by OBI to Salvation Army staging areas in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. After four mobile kitchens and dozens of mobile canteens from partnering groups are in place, OBI will be helping provide up to 310,000 meals a day to storm victims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. OBI is also working with local churches and other nonprofits to determine strategic and effective ways to bring aid to those struggling to cope in the aftermath of the brutal hurricane. Donate by phone by calling 1-800-730-2537 or visit www.cbn.com.

SALVATION ARMY: A $100 donation to the Salvation Army will feed a family of four for two days, provide two cases of drinking water and one household clean-up kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets and cleaning supplies. For victims needing assistance, please call 1-888-363-2769. Financial contributions are greatly needed and provide the Salvation Army with the funds to purchase what storm victims need. They also allow the Salvation Army to assess the unique needs of individuals and families, as well as put money back into the economy of those communities affected by the disaster. To make a secure online contribution visit www.salvationarmyusa.org. To donate by phone, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. To donate by mail, send checks, earmarked “disaster relief,” to P.O. BOX 4857, JACKSON, MS 39296-4857. Visit your local Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club to donate to the Salvation Army’s Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

DIRECT RELIEF: One of the major relief programs comes from Direct Relief International. Direct Relief has already gone into action with the state of Louisiana and federal officials overseeing the Katrina aftermath in the South. Direct Relief focuses on replenishing medical inventories and providing emergency medical material where needed. Direct Relief has in stock medical inventories that undergird health services and respond to emergencies such as the Katrina hurricane. It has a long history of giving backup to official emergency efforts in America as well as other countries around the globe. For further contact, call 1-805-962-3700 or e-mail jm@surfmedia.com.

SAMARITAN’S PURSE is a Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham.

SOUTHERN BAPTIST RELIEF FUND — administered by the denomination’s North American Missions Board.

AMERICAN RED CROSS: All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this disaster by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. Make a secure online contribution.

CHURCH WORLD SERVICE: CWS Disaster Response and Recovery is ready to respond to the Katrina hurricane disaster. CWS plans on deploying efforts to the calamity based on specific invitation for assistance by CWS partners. For updates on how to help, call the CWS HOTLINE at 1-800-297-1516.

CATHOLIC CHARITIES USA: This agency is commissioned by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to represent the Catholic community in such disasters as the Katrina hurricane. The response is to emergency as well as long-term help requests. The Disaster Response Office contacts the Catholic Church’s social service offices and disaster programming agencies throughout America. For further information, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/news/katrina.cfm or call Catholic Charities at 1-800-919-9338.

INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES: IOCC is providing assistance to those in the storm-affected areas. IOCC works with Orthodox Christian churches and the Church World Service and others to assist in efforts of housing, food, and miscellaneous help, particularly to the displaced by the hurricane. Already the bishops have activated emergency response networks. Donations for the IOCC Hurricane Disaster Response Fund may be sent to IOCC, “Hurricane Relief,” P.O. Box 639225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225. Call toll-free 1-877-803-IOCC (4622).

HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: HSUS volunteers are on the ground in the Gulf Coast helping to rescue stranded animals.

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF/EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF AMERICA: The ELCA Domestic Disaster Response to the hurricane will include spiritual care for those affected by the disaster, care for caregivers, and hardship grants. Hardship grants are available to those who need short-term assistance for expenses unmet by insurance or FEMA grants, such as rent, insurance deductibles, or special medical equipment. Please send donations to ELCA Domestic Disaster Response, designated for “Hurricane 2005,” to ensure that funds are available to be released immediately once community needs are assessed. All 100 percent of your gifts will go to help individuals and communities rebuild their lives following this disaster. LDR coordinators will be organizing volunteers to assist in the debris removal and clean up as soon as possible. Make your check or money order out to: ELCA Disaster Response, P.O. Box 71764, Chicago, Illinois 60694-1764. Mark “Katrina Hurricane” on your check or money order.

LUTHERAN CHURCH/MISSOURI SYNOD: Gifts for hurricane relief may be made out to LCMS World Relief and sent to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-9810. Please designate your check “2005 Hurricane.” You may also call the Credit Card Gift Line at 1-888-930-4438.

SEND CASH, CLOTHING OR FOOD? Yes. Send cash donations – that is, go to your bank account rather than your closet or food pantry, counsels Church World Service officials. “Cash is always preferred over material donations,” says Linda Reed Brown, associate director of Emergency Response at Church World Service (CWS), a New York-based humanitarian and relief agency serving the U.S. “With cash donations, organizations responding to disasters can quickly acquire exactly what is needed based on damage assessments,” she explains. “Cash also can purchase goods and services in the disaster-stricken community and thus boost its economy at a critical time.”

List complied by Grant Swank, news editor at WDC Media www.wdcmedia.com

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