Wednesday, March 5, 1997
It's just the beginning
for volunteers

500 workers join effort;
more needed

BY TOM O'NEILL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The relief effort continues to grow. And grow.

As the American Red Cross and Salvation Army furthered their efforts to coordinate shelters and volunteers, others have joined in - from huge supermarket chains to small churches, from tire stores to an investment firm.

Although more volunteers are needed, especially those with medical, mental health or clerical skills, the number already helping has increased significantly since Monday to more than 500, Red Cross officials said Tuesday.

''We're just in the beginning stages,'' Red Cross spokeswoman Barbara Giles said. She said the next steps are setting up and staffing service centers, packing and distributing cleanup kits, and arranging food deliveries to homes once people return.

The Red Cross accepts only volunteers and cash donations, but numerous other local organizations have established food and clothing dropoff centers. Provident Bank also is selling ribbons of support for $1, with proceeds going to disaster relief.

''Any type of usable clothing, especially shoes, and appliances are welcome,'' said Joe Byrum, executive director of Ohio Valley Goodwill, which is accepting donations at 19 locations, including its largest facility at 10600 Springfield Pike in Woodlawn. ''We're a self-help organization, but this seemed like a great opportunity to help people in need.''

At the Columbia Parkway YMCA in Columbia Tusculum, about 30 flooded-out residents milled about, some watching TV or reading, others worrying aloud about the homes they left behind.

They had something in common with Susan Elfers of Reading, who began her volunteer stint Tuesday at the Y. Two weeks ago, Ms. Elfers lost most of her furnishings and cherished collectibles in a fire at Reading Storage.

''I understand how they feel,'' she said. ''Every little bit of help means a lot right now.''

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