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United Way coordinates aid to three Mississippi counties

The United Way of St. Croix County has "adopted" Gulfport, Miss. in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

According to John Coughlin, executive director of the United Way of St. Croix County, the local non-profit organization decided to focus its relief efforts on one specific disaster area to maximize the impact.

"We'll be able to see where our money and supplies are going," he said.

The effort will assist residents in three of the hardest hit counties on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The local aid will be funneled through the United Way of South Mississippi organization in Gulfport.

"The need on the coast is enormous so we decided to focus in on a specific geographic area so we can have direct contact and get them what they need most," Coughlin said. "Gulfport and Biloxi really took a beating. Our goal is to help these communities with both short- and long-term recovery."

Volunteers will be gathering donations at the County Market in New Richmond over the next two weekends. A large truck will be parked in the lot and packed with donated supplies.

Donations may be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11.

Donations will also be gathered from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18.

Cash donations and supplies will be accepted.

One or more trucks will take donations to Mississippi beginning Sept. 20. The shipment is expected to reach Gulfport Sept. 22.

Among the specific items needed for the drive are new men's, women's and children's underwear, t-shirts, socks, sweat shirts and sweat pants. No other clothing will be collected.

Disposable diapers and pull-ups, infant wipes and diaper rash cream are among the infant items being requested. Household items requested include bleach, duct tape, flashlights and batteries, garbage bags, gloves (latex and work), matches, paper towels, paper plates, plastic tableware, toilet paper and facial tissue.

First items needed include adhesive bandages, aspirin, ibuprofen, antiseptic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, insect repellent and sunscreen.

Toiletry needs are waterless hand sanitizers, handi-wipes, disposable razors and shaving cream, soap, deodorant and feminine hygiene items. Kids items requested include activity and coloring books, crayons, pencils and small stuffed animals.

One hundred percent of cash donations will be forwarded directly to help families rebuild their lives, Coughlin said.

Coughlin said he's been impressed with how local residents have responded to the announced donation drive.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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