Servicemembers reach out to help storm victims
With televisions tuned to dramatic footage of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, servicemembers throughout the Pacific have been seeking ways to lend a hand.
Most bases are referring those who want to donate money to the American Red Cross, whose base offices also are busy fielding calls seeking — and in some cases providing — news about family members back home.
Ahava Martin, Red Cross hub manager for the U.S. military community in South Korea, said Wednesday that the organization’s eight offices on the peninsula had received about 40 calls from the United States in the wake of Katrina. Most of the messages included a request for the Red Cross to alert the military that the servicemember was needed at home, Martin said.
Her staff took about 150 local calls from people seeking information, Martin said.
The Red Cross office on Camp Foster, Okinawa, has received about six emergency messages requesting that family members return to the States, according to Gary Trotter, senior Red Cross station manager on Okinawa. He said the office also has received “good news” — messages telling family members here that loved ones are safe and how they can be contacted.
Trotter said personnel here have asked his office to send messages home seeking information on family members.
At Misawa Air Base, Japan’s Red Cross station manager Jason Ramlow said Wednesday afternoon his office had received 20 such calls since Monday.
But with power down and some areas still inaccessible, both said, the Red Cross cannot send such messages yet.
Base Red Cross officials are urging those seeking information to continue calling the homes of family and friends where displaced loved ones may have gone.
Martin said some military members have asked how they can help via fundraisers. She stressed that donating money — not used clothing or other items — was best in this type of situation to ensure the “client gets exactly what they need.”
Base chapels and organizations also are gathering monetary donations for hurricane survivors. Among the fundraisers already planned:
The 18th Wing Chapel at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, is accepting monetary donations for the American Red Cross. Donations can be dropped at the administrative office in Chapel 2 (Building 425) from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and should be in form of a check made payable to Kadena CTOF (Chapel Tithe and Offering Fund).At Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, offerings made at Sept. 18 Catholic and Protestant chapel services will be earmarked for hurricane victims, base officials said. Offerings from upcoming Sunday worship services in Area IV, including installations in Daegu, Waegwan and Busan, also will be donated to help relief efforts.Officials at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, said the base chapel will accept donations through September. All funds would be sent directly to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Headquarters and used for relief operations, Navy officials said. They said those wanting more information could call DSN 762-5388.The Air Force Sergeant Association at Misawa is holding a fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15-16 in the main base exchange and commissary parking lots. Checks are preferred but cash will be accepted. For more information, e-mail email@example.com. Also at Misawa, all donations collected at base chapel services on Sept. 11 will go to the Chief of the Chaplain Service’s Special Activities Fund for Hurricane Relief.Contributions are being accepted by the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. Checks should be sent to NMCRS Headquarters, payable to NMCRS. The check should clearly identify Hurricane Katrina in the memo section and should be sent to NMCRS Headquarters, 875 N. Randolph St., Suite 25, Arlington, VA 22203-1927.With blood centers closed in the affected regions, Okinawa’s Armed Services Blood Bank Center has been asked to send blood units to the States.
“Because of the recent successful drives on- and off-island, our inventory is healthy,” said Air Force Capt. Jerome Vinluan, the Okinawa center’s deputy director.
The initial shipment is going to be about 50 units, he said, mostly of type O blood, which blood bank officials have been told is most needed.