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In Katrina's wake, many lodians giving to relief effort

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Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2005 10:00 pm

Lodi residents, businesses and school children Tuesday scrambled to help victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Their efforts include:

• The California Highway Patrol is sending area officers to help out in the disaster-stricken region.

• General Mills has pledged to give $1 million to the relief effort, several local banks are matching employee contributions and a local store owner is collecting items ranging from diapers to soap.

• The Micke Grove Zoo is raising funds for other zoos damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

• Dozens of local school children have written letters of support to children taking refuge in the Astrodome in Houston.

Area CHP officers en route to help

Eleven Stockton-based California Highway Patrol officers have gone to Louisiana to lend assistance, "whether it be protecting convoys, helping law enforcement," said Officer W.J. Sivley, spokesman for the office. He did not know when the officers will return and if others will join or replace them.

Statewide, 116 officers have gone to help, and they've also sent 40 all-terrain vehicles and three helicopters.

Because the CHP is a large agency, the officers were able to go without straining resources or leaving shifts unfilled, Sivley said.

How to help

Area residents looking to help the Katrina hurricane victims can support local relief agencies such as:
American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
The AZA is channeling contributions, donations of food and supplies and volunteers where needed.
The Micke Grove Zoological Society established a fund to go toward hurricane relief. Those who would like to make a contribution may contact Micke Grove Zoo administrative office at 331-2010 or mail a check to MGZS Relief Fund, P.O. Box 2000, Lodi, CA 95241.
American Red Cross
People may make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by calling (800) HELP-NOW or visiting http://www.sanjoaquincounty.redcross.org.
Potential volunteers may visit the Web site or call 466-6971.
Lodi Salvation Army
People may send a financial contribution to the Lodi Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1388, Lodi, CA 95241. Be sure to write "hurricane relief" on the memo of the check. For more information, call 369-5896.
Delta Blood Bank
The Delta Blood Bank is sending blood to the hurricane-affected region. Blood donors are needed. To make an appointment to donate blood, call (888) 94-BLOOD or visit http://www.deltabloodbank.org. People may donate blood in Lodi on Wednesdays from 12:45 to 6:30 p.m. at Hutchins Street Square, 125 S. Hutchins St.
-- News-Sentinel staff.

At the Lodi Salvation Army, workers said their mailbox has been overflowing with contributions for hurricane relief; every time they check the mail, they receive donations.

"We've gotten a huge response," said Diane Marsh, who works at the Salvation Army.

So far, donations from Lodi are more than $21,000, and the largest donation so far was $2,000, Major Frank Severs said.

The Salvation Army has gotten many phone calls from people wondering what they can do.

Marsh said they can send checks to the Salvation Army with "hurricane relief" written in the memo. The donations are sent to headquarters in Sacramento and distributed from there.

At the Delta Blood Bank, many people have responded to calls for blood donations, and many companies have called to set up blood drives, said Rebecca Glissman, marketing director of Delta Blood Bank.

"Tons of donations have come in," she said.

The blood is available to be sent to the Gulf Coast if needed, but so far, Delta Blood Bank hasn't received a call. The blood bank is part of American Blood Centers and the American Association of Blood Banks, which in the Gulf Coast area in partnership with the American Red Cross.

Because blood has a shelf life of only 42 days, and blood donated in honor of hurricane victims is not yet needed there, blood will be distributed locally; when people do donate for hurricane victims, Delta Blood Bank will donate $10 to hurricane relief, Glissman said.

She said that in a month or so, blood donations from Delta Blood Bank may be needed for hurricane victims.

Local business, companies raise money

Memories for the Making, a scrapbooking store located on Lockeford Street, is collecting donations for the American Red Cross's Hurricane Relief Fund. In addition, owner Alison Wong-Bertsch has offered to match 100 percent of the total donations that they receive.

"We've gotten a couple hundred dollars in donations over the weekend," Wong-Bertsch said.

Memories for the Making sent out an e-mail last Thursday to all of their registered e-mail subscribers, encouraging them to support the hurricane victims by making donations at their store. Those who make American Red Cross donations of over $5 will receive a free Halloween gift pack of papers, stickers and die cuts, while supplies last.

Meanwhile, Gotta Crop! scrapbooking store collected toiletries last weekend from customers, ranging from toilet paper and diapers to shampoo and soap.

"My garage is full," said owner Marianne Alvarez, who is boxing items up and shipping them today. The collection will be shipped to a scrapbooking contact they have in Morgan City, Louisiana, who will be distributing the items to shelters in the surrounding areas.

The store is also collecting change for the Red Cross in a program they've named Koins for Katrina. A big jar will be kept on their counter for customers who want to donate their spare change to the hurricane fund.

Keys Kitchen is holding a silent auction on a replica of the 9-11 Rolling Memorial, with the proceeds from the auction being donated to the American Red Cross. The donor who contributes the most by Sept. 12 will receive the 4-foot-long replica memorial bearing the names of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The restaurant, at 101 N. Guild Ave., is also accepting donations of food and supplies for victims of the disaster.

"Everybody's got to do their part and Keys Kitchen felt like this is what we can do," said restaurant co-owner Johnnie Earl.

The Bank of Lodi is adding 50 cents to every dollar employees donate to relief organizations, said Robert Naify, senior vice president of marketing for Placer Sierra Bank, which owns the Lodi bank.

Since the hurricane, mailbags full of donations have been pouring into the bank and the bank devotes about 15 employee hours to the collection, recording and deposit of donations, Naify said.

"We're happy to do that as part of our giving back to the community," said Randall Reynoso, president and chief operating officer for Placer Sierra Bank, which owns The Bank of Lodi.

Collection cans have been set up in the Lakewood Mall branch of Central California Bank, which will forward the donations to the Rotary Foundation, said Marilyn Goode, chief administrative officer for parent company Western Sierra Bancorp.

"It's been really successful in the branches," Goode said. "Customers are being really generous."

The bank is also matching employee donations up to $3,000 and has already given $1,000 to the American Red Cross, Goode said.

General Mills donates

General Mills has pledged $1 million for the relief effort and has requested its product donations to the Second Harvest food bank be redirected to areas affected by Katrina, said spokeswoman Marybeth Thorsgaard.

General Mills is also matching employee donations to the Red Cross, up to $100,000, Thorsgaard said.

Safeway responded to the relief effort with a $100,000 donation to the Red Cross. The company is also donating 10,000 American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Kits that contain blankets, flashlights, First Aid supplies and other items.

Donation boxes have been placed at the checkstands in the company's stores and Safeway is matching employee donations to the Red Cross.

Financial services firm Edward Jones will donate $1 million to the Red Cross in addition to contributions the public makes at its branches, two of which are in Lodi.

Of the $1 million sum, $250,000 will go directly to the Red Cross while the remainder will go to Red Cross efforts in communities that are home to Edward Jones branches.

Local students reach out

Acknowledging that many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina are young children, local schools and student groups have turned a natural disaster into an opportunity for outreach and compassion.

Students at Vinewood Elementary began a change drive shortly after hearing reports of the devastation on the Gulf Coast, according to Principal Kitsy Smith.

"It's hitting them at home," Smith said of her students' capacity for understanding the needs of others. "It's a lesson they can carry with them for the rest of their lives."

Local fund-raising news welcome

Know of a fundraising effort related to Katrina relief? We're looking to publish such items in coming days. Please contact Pamela Bauserman, newsroom assistant, at 369-7035 or at pamelab@lodinews.com.

Other Lodi Unified schools, such as Ansel Adams and Parklane elementary schools in north Stockton and Leroy Nichols Elementary School in Lodi have begun similar drives, officials report.

Meanwhile, students at the high school level are putting their own two cents in, or more than that, says Lodi High social studies teacher Kelly Phelps.

As many as 200 Lodi High students have written letters to children temporarily staying at the Astrodome in Houston and collected nearly $100 in a single day.

"Many of my students have close to nothing themselves," Phelps wrote in an e-mail. "To see them pull out two quarters from their pocket to donate to the Red Cross just shows the immense compassion and love of teenagers in our community."

Micke Grove Zoo responds

In response to the many zoos and aquariums that have been devastated in the Gulf Coast area, the Micke Grove Zoological Society will be sending funds to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. The AZA is channeling contributions, donations of food and supplies and volunteers where needed.

The Micke Grove Zoological Society established a fund to go toward hurricane relief, and 100 percent of funds raised will go to AZA to assist animals at zoos and aquariums that have been affected.

Finally, local girls selling lemonade to help Katrina's victims plan a second event.

This time, Lindsey Booth, 9, her sister, Samantha Booth, 10, and Celena Henderson, 12, will sell lemonade from 11 a.m. to about 2 p.m. in front of Beckman Park at Century Boulevard and Ham Lane.

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