The Telegram
  • Many want to help flood victims; organizing it is key

  • When it comes to pulling together in times of crisis, there are few communities that rival the Mohawk Valley.

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  • When it comes to pulling together in times of crisis, there are few communities that rival the Mohawk Valley.
    The compassion of the region has been on display again this week as the support for the flooding victims of Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties has come rushing in even faster than the waters that necessitated it.
    “The response has been amazing,” said Adam Lawless, marketing and community engagement manager for the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area, which co-hosted a flooding relief telethon Wednesday with WKTV. “But that’s not surprising. … This is a community that cares for one another and always contributes to those in need.”
    Oftentimes, however, that zeal can lead people to misdirect their good intentions, said Matt Michael, communications officer for the American Red Cross of Central New York.
    “It’s great that people want to help, and we appreciate it immensely, but each organization deals in different things,” said Michael, whose organization’s shelters have housed nearly 300 people and served more than 3,000 meals since Friday. “For us, financial donations are better because we have the resources to turn that into more.”
    The Salvation Army, which brought in a new 48-foot self-contained commercial kitchen to Herkimer High School on Wednesday that can serve more than 15,000 meals a day, also is asking that people donate money rather than items.
    “The support has been overwhelming,” said Director of Communications Christine Gray. “There were literally people driving up every five minutes to drop things off on Tuesday. But at this point, we are all set with food.”
    Kari Johnson, director of volunteer services for the Mohawk Valley Regional Volunteer Center, also urges that people wanting to give their time to make sure they go through the proper channels, and don’t just show up to dangerous situations.
    “When it comes to emergency situations, trained professionals are the ones to handle that,” said Johnson, whose organization is compiling a list of nonprofit volunteer needs on its website. “If you want to volunteer, your best bet is to check our website and find out where best to direct your efforts.”

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