Victims speak out about flagging Red Cross donations

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Money is tight for everyone these days - including groups who count on donations to help others. Non-profits like the American Red Cross are seeing donations drop off and funds diminish.

Thursday morning, several local families helped by the Red Cross had the chance to speak out and encourage people to donate their time and money.

Christian Weber and his family moved to the Richmond area from Florida just five months ago. They say they never imagining that their entire lives would be turned upside down.

The family barely escaped a fire at the Honey Tree apartments one month ago and they say they have been depending on the help of complete strangers to survive.

"They've given us food, they've given us money for food, support - everything we need to get back on track," said family member Nathan Weber. "From counselors calling us, from just everyone being nice, no matter what they called they'd have an answer. If they weren't there we'd probably be on the street."

The Weber family is only one of 100,000 people who have needed the assistance of the Red Cross's disaster relief services.  But with the worsening economy, the money is just not there any longer.

Corporate sponsorships are disappearing and families just aren't able to give like they have in the past.

Reggie Gordon, the CEO of the Red Cross Greater Richmond chapter, estimates the non-profit has received $400,000 less in donations so far this year over last year.

"If we weren't able to be there to help , it would make situations worse for our neighbors and friends," Gordon said. "We need to be able to have the staffing, and the supplies and resources to respond whenever we are asked to respond."

Those wishing to donate to the Red Cross can go to their website or call (804) 780-2250.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.