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By Donna Hilton

The Diamond Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has distributed more than $200,000 in aid to persons displaced by hurricanes, provided casework to more than 400 families and fed more than 8,000 meals and snacks. The shelter at the Arkadelphia Recreation Center is still open, and took care of 37 people Wednesday night, according to Debra LeMay, director of the chapter.
The shelter is still in need of baby care items such as diapers and baby wipes, canned drinks, pre-packaged snack foods and personal hygiene and toiletry items, she said.

At 37, the population in the shelter has decreased dramatically. Last Saturday night, the shelter housed nearly 300 people.
The local Red Cross chapter provides help in any disaster, such as funding for food, clothing and lodging for victims of fires or flooding. The funding needed for each instance is different, LeMay said.

“It depends on the need,” she said. A family’s home may be damaged by smoke, and family members cannot stay in it until the smoke is cleaned out. Funding for temporary housing and food would be needed, but not a clothing allowance.

Another family may be insured for fire losses, but one family member may need life-sustaining medication. “We try to help them with that.”

The Red Cross also provides services in other situations, such as providing food and shelter to persons affected by last winter’s ice storm.

A donation of more than $22,000 from Elk Horn Bank and Trust, the bank’s employees and customers was recently presented to the Red Cross.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, Elk Horn began taking donations for the Red Cross to help those affected by the hurricane.

The bank donated $5,000 of the money. The rest came from Elk Horn employees and customers, said Bill Wright, the bank’s president. “People really responded well,” he said.

Wright is also treasurer of the local Red Cross Board of Directors.

Even though the donation was presented Tuesday to Debra LeMay, director of the local Red Cross chapter, donations are still coming in at the bank. “I’m so proud of the donations made by our customers and employees,” Wright said.

Approximately two-thirds of the chapter’s operating budget comes from local donations such as the one from Elk Horn. Private donations are the primary source of funding for the Red Cross, said Mikki Hastings, assistant director of the chapter.

“The national organization only reimburses us for national disasters,” she said.

The Diamond Valley Chapter provides services to residents of Clark, Dallas, Grant, Hot Spring and Pike counties.

Donations can still be made to assist the Red Cross, Wright said. Donations can be taken to the Red Cross office at 405 South 5th St. or at any Elk Horn bank location.