Giving for Kentucky disaster victims should switch to cash, state agency says

The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management in Frankfort urged people Tuesday to donate cash to help tornado victims instead of clothing, water and food.

If people want to donate items, they are encouraged to donate through groups such as the Salvation Army or the Christian Appalachian Project, which coordinate with state and federal officials on communities' needs, and have storage to hold collected items until needed.

Do not give to small groups that want to load up a truck and head out to the hard-hit areas to distribute the materials because many communities have been overwhelmed and don't have storage space, said Buddy Rogers, spokesman for the Division of Emergency Management.

"People are opening their hearts to help. And that is wonderful," Rogers said.

"We're not telling people not to donate. But if you donate, do it through a big agency like Christian Appalachian Project or the Salvation Army because they coordinate with state and federal officials on what is needed where and when."

Red Cross spokesman Winn Stephens said his agency was notified Tuesday morning that the immediate needs of storm victims were being met for such items as food, personal items and cleaning supplies.

Kentucky Emergency Management, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Christian Appalachian Project all said donating money is best.

"Communities can do so much more with cash, and it's not so cumbersome," Rogers said. "These agencies know what people need, and cash frees them up to purchase specific things that are needed."

"We always need financial donations because money can be used for specific things that are needed, like people who have lost eyeglasses. Or at the mobile kitchens the Salvation Army has set up. We are cooking in large quantities and need to buy groceries," said Maj. Debra Ashcraft, associate coordinator for Central Kentucky services.

That said, the Salvation Army is having a collection drive Wednesday through Saturday at Fayette Mall during mall hours for specific items including work gloves, towels and wash clothes, new socks and underwear for men, women and children; buckets, brooms, mops and laundry detergents.

Items donated will be organized and stored "until emergency management directors in the hard-hit communities tell us specifically what they need," Ashcraft said. "It's called donations management. It's all about working smarter."

The Christian Appalachian Project will have its tractor-trailer in the Wal-Mart parking lot at Hamburg through Saturday to collect items and money.

"We're in a position to continue to take donated items because we can store them and distribute them to areas in need, when they are needed," said Guy Adams, CAP president. People who donate money will receive receipts from CAP in the mail for their donations.

The Kentucky State Police will continue to take relief donations at its posts across the state through Sunday. "We are right now looking for storage like large tractor-trailers so these items can be held until we get the word from Emergency Management on where the need is," said senior trooper Michael Webb, in the state police public affairs branch in Frankfort.

State police do not want to take cash contributions.

If people want to donate items to Lawrence County, call the Father Beiting Appalachian Mission Center in Louisa at (606) 638-0219 and ask for Chris LaFlesh, director of housing and transportation.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader