Americans Donate $18 Million to Red Cross Fund for Tsunami Victims

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - By Thursday, just four days after a powerful tsunami hit countries in southern Asia and eastern Africa, Americans had contributed more than $18 million to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.

"I'm heartened that the American people are turning to the American Red Cross as a conduit for their compassion and concern for the families affected by the tsunami in Asia," said Marsha Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, in a press release.

"The American Red Cross will be as transparent as possible," Evans added. "I want to assure donors that their intent will be honored and their contributions to the International Response Fund will be used to meet the needs of earthquake victims in the days, weeks and months ahead."

Immediately after the earthquake, the American Red Cross established contact with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the affected countries to determine how the organization could best provide assistance to those hit by the tsunami.

Through its International Response Fund, the American Red Cross provides partners in other countries with trained personnel, relief supplies and/or direct monetary assistance regarding immediate and long-term relief efforts for disaster victims.

When international disasters strike, the American Red Cross has personnel trained in three key competency areas: water sanitation services, family linking and reunification and relief supply distribution.

A water sanitation engineer has already been deployed to the Maldives, and two relief workers are on route to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Additionally, a team of workers trained in relief supply distribution will likely be deployed to affected areas in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The American Red Cross is also coordinating with other societies on how to distribute a stockpile of $350,000 worth of relief supplies pre-positioned in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. These supplies include tents, blankets, tarps, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits.

Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to a local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting the organization's website.

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