Factbox: Groups urge cash, not stuff, for Oklahoma victims

WASHINGTON Tue May 21, 2013 2:51pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Disasters such as Monday's tornado that wiped out much of Moore, Oklahoma often prompt people to help victims by collecting goods or launching blood drives, but charitable groups said money, not goods, is the best way to help.

AMERICAN RED CROSS:

* "What this enables us to do is send those funds to the area where they're needed most immediately," Red Cross spokeswoman Anne Marie Borrego said of financial contributions.

* Donating food or clothing can hurt relief efforts as organizations must take time to sort and process them, the Red Cross said.

* The Red Cross accepts donations of $10 or more at redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting "REDCROSS" to 90999. The funds would be for food, shelter and counseling for storm victims in Oklahoma and in nearby Texas.

* Cash donations allow the Red Cross to buy food in bulk to serve victims and responders.

SALVATION ARMY

* The Salvation Army has multiple disaster response units in Moore.

* "Monetary donations are the most critical need as supplies and personnel are mobilized," the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

* Donors can give online by visiting www.SalvationArmyUSA.org, calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769), or texting "STORM" to 80888.

* It also will accept checks at The Salvation Army, PO Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.

CHARITIES

* Save the Children is accepting donations for its U.S. Emergencies Fund to help children in Moore and other nearby damaged areas to make sure shelters can meet their needs and to help offer safe spaces.

* Other national charities responding to the disaster include Global Giving (www.globalgiving.org ), Feed the Children (www.feedthechildren.org ).

* Oklahoma chapters of national groups including Rotary International and the United Way are also collecting funds.

GIFT CARDS

* Smaller charities are collecting gift cards for stores like Target and WalMart, that sell household goods, and for hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes that have supplies for rebuilding.

* Toomer's for Tuscaloosa, a group formed to help victims from storms in Alabama in 2011, said it was collecting gift cards for those Oklahoma.

* "We can get those (gift cards) UPS'd very fast," Toomer's said on its Facebook page.

* Toomers also urged against those outside the storm area from donating other items such as clothes.

BEWARE OF SCAMS

* Oklahoma Attorney General Scott urged residents to be cautious of scams involving phony relief efforts such as false fundraising or repair and cleanup scams.

* Be alert and only donate to reputable relief charities such as the Salvation Army or the Red Cross, Pruitt said in a statement.

* Residents trying to clean up should "be cautious and patient and to use reputable contractors," he added.

BLOOD DRIVES, OTHER VOLUNTEERS

* Several local groups in Oklahoma said they were sponsoring blood drives.

* The Red Cross's office in western Oklahoma said it was flooded with "spontaneous volunteers" Tuesday morning.

* People should to stay away from the affected area while first responders continue their work there, Oklahoma officials said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, editing by Linda Stern and Bob Burgdorfer)

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