Red Cross Hawaii
needs own charity gifts
Officials ask residents to help
it climb out of its $150,000 hole
The Hawaii State chapter of the American Red Cross, which is $150,000 in the red, is switching roles and asking Hawaii residents for some help.
Some businesses will be asking patrons through Nov. 30 to contribute $2 in its "Hawaii $2-gether" campaign. The first participants are Subway, Verizon Plus, Hawaii Pacific Federal Credit Union and the University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union.
"We've been struggling financially for the last few years," said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, the chapter's chief executive officer. "We're operating on borrowed money right now."
After Sept. 11, 2001, contributions dropped 40 percent and are still down 20 percent, said Glenn Lockwood, director of disaster services. Six months ago, the chapter laid off seven employees.
Red Cross volunteers respond to disasters every two to three days, Matayoshi said. Last year, volunteers responded to 152 disasters, providing 112 families with food, clothing, temporary housing and counseling.
"This community cannot afford not to be prepared," Matayoshi said. "We cannot fail."
In preparation for Hurricane Jimena, the agency spent $5,000. Had it struck the Big Island, the Red Cross likely would have spent between $350,000 and $400,000, Lockwood said.
The agency provides about $1,000 for a family burned out by a typical house fire for emergency housing, food and clothing. Paying for a month's rent and deposit can add $2,000.
Of its $3.2 million annual budget, $1.1 million is used to prepare for and respond to disasters, and 53 percent for salaries and benefits for 40 full-time and 40 part-time employees in nine offices statewide.
The agency is funded 60 percent through public donations. The remaining 40 percent is from federal employee donations, fees for health and safety classes, and product sales.
Matayoshi said she would like to build a local fund from which interest could be drawn, while the principal is kept intact.
Funds donated to the local Red Cross do not leave Hawaii, unless a donor asks for the money to go to a specific cause elsewhere.
To make a donation, call 739-8105 or mail to American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu 96816-4417. The chapter is also accepting donations for the victims of the Southern California wildfires.