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PRESS CONTACT INFO

ROBIN ERICKSON
Director of Communications

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(401) 831-7700 x101
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[email protected]

Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Red Cross Continues Record Month of Response -- Twice As Many Incidents, Over 200 People Helped

So far this month, American Red Cross of Rhode Island volunteers have responded to twice as many emergencies as they did for the entire month of January in 2002.

Over 200 Rhode Islanders have received assistance from the not-for-profit agency in January, which provides emergency food, clothing and shelter to families, free of charge.

In 2002, volunteers responded to 17 incidents in January, assisting 135 people. With three more days to go this month, the agency has provided 212 people with services, responding to 34 incidents.

The Red Cross says cold weather is definitely the culprit.

"While fires are the most common disaster our volunteers are called to, the cold weather is causing additional problems for families, like gas leaks and burst pipes," Barbara E. McGann, CEO of the American Red Cross of Rhode Island said. "These numbers are staggering and they don't even include all of the shelters we assisted during this cold spell, by providing cots and blankets."

Since Friday, the Red Cross has responded to ten incidents across the state, in communities such as Providence, Woonsocket and Warwick. McGann says the cost for the emergencies is a concern; the Red Cross is already ahead of last year's emergency spending. She said a new shipment of cots and blankets had to be ordered because the supply has been depleted by the opening of many emergency shelters.

"Our volunteers are the true heroes," McGann said. "These folks receive no compensation, and have been assisting families on some of the coldest nights of the year. If you are considering making a financial contribution to the Red Cross, just imagine your own family standing outside in the freezing cold --- and a friendly Red Cross volunteer arriving to provide you with a warm place to sleep and a meal to eat."

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