On behalf of the employees of Mine Power Systems, company owner Dan Bickey donated $10,000 Thursday to the American Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Katrina, answering the challenge issued by Phillips Machine Service Wednesday and matching its donation.

“We accepted Jack Phill-ips’ challenge to other mining supply places,” Bickey said. “It’s been a banner year for the mining business and I think it’s the right thing to do.

“We have to step up to the plate and help our fellow Americans.”

Bickey said the donation was made on behalf of the employees because it would not be possible without their hard work.

“(They) helped make the money for our company to make this contribution.”

Susan Hambric, financial development associate for the Central West Virginia chapter of the Red Cross, said the donations made by Phillips Machine Service and Mine Power Systems reflect well on the area.

“It just shows the community steps up to the plate and helps ...,” she said. “These are phenomenal donations that both Phillips Machine and Mine Power Systems have made.”

Hambric said while a great deal of attention has been given to large donations, smaller donations have been pouring in.

“Donations from the entire community have been great,” she said. “Schools are doing penny drives and quarter drives. Southern Reds (barbecue) is going to be doing a large auction and rummage sale. One of the ministerial associations is working to get churches collecting money. Numerous businesses are putting donation cans in their stores.

“It’s a tremendous response and we want the public to realize how much we appreciate every single donation regardless of size. Every dollar counts.”

While the Red Cross encourages donations of any size, Hambric says it is only able to accept monetary donations due to logistical challenges and the number of personnel needed to sort and distribute in-kind donations. Hambric says the Red Cross office has received “numerous calls from people who wanted to load up trucks with supplies and take them down there themselves.”

Although the sentiment is appreciated, Hambric says any person considering that should think twice.

“There are a lot of hazards,” Hambric said. “Roads are closed, power is out and there really are no accommodations. It’s extremely difficult to know where to take items. There’s no storage available. Bulk items require a lot of people to sort through them and to get them to people who need them.

“It is much easier if they can be taken in in an organized manner by people who know what they’re doing.”

Hambric encourages people who want to help to donate money or consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer, but says they must take a training class before making the trip.

“It’s really hard to go into an area that has been affected by a natural disaster and get on-the-job training,” she said of the required training. “There are many hazards and precautions you need to take.

“It’s hard duty.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the Central West Virginia Red Cross at 255-1508. Donations can be mailed to the Central West Virginia Red Cross, P.O. Box 1598 Beckley, WV 25802, or can be made online by going to www.redcross.org.

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