Red Cross Under Fire Over Flood Donations
Going after the American Red Cross seems a bit like going after mom and apple pie, but people are starting to ask questions about the ages old organization and some of its methods. Right now, a lot of people are critical of the way the Red Cross is handling its acceptance and distribution of relief items for flood victims around Louisiana.
Yesterday, another group stepped forward and leveled a complaint about the Red Cross. In the past, the Red Cross was criticized for tossing out some donations, but the latest complaint is different.
For Joannie Hughes out of Belle Chasse, LA, her non-profit, Layaya - a group of youth involved in the arts - drove five truckloads of children's care packages to shelters in Baton Rouge.
"We started building those packages and we got 150 of them," said Hughes.
Calling the River Center shelter the day before - to make sure their donations could be accepted - they made the hour-and- a-half drive. But near the shelter, they ran into a roadblock, literally.
"Some of the Red Cross volunteers kept telling us all that we could get a pass to come to the side of the River Center where there was a warehouse that all donations had to come in,"
Hughes said they were told to leave their donations - rather than help hand them out to those in need - which was frustrating for her group of volunteers who simply wanted to help.
"It was upsetting for children; it was upsetting for everyone involved," said Hughes.
However, because of national guidelines, the American Red Cross of Southwest Louisiana said it can't accept all donations.
"Red Cross can only accept new, pre-packaged food items, non-perishable canned goods, clothing that is pre-packaged," explained Craig Ryan, Red Cross of SWLA's disaster program specialist.
Ryan said cleaning out your closet and donating clothes is something they can't accept.
"It just creates a log jam for the agencies that are accepting them," he said.
However, Hughes said they did follow their instructions to pre-package everything. Instead, she feels the Red Cross should revamp its policies.
"It just seems very confusing to me and to everyone trying to help out," said Hughes.
Despite the hurdle, Hughes said she was able to get their donations to those in need by driving around some unmanned barricades.