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Red Cross on front lines of disaster relief

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

The Harrison County United Way provides funding to 22 different organizations, one of which is the American Red Cross. Finding someone who has benefited from its services wasn't difficult, but listening to her heart-breaking story was.

Choking back tears, Christy Goodwin tried to express her gratitude for the Red Cross. She didn't make it through the interview without giving in to her emotions, but she did make her point.

"If they hadn't have come, I would be in total shambles right now," she said. "I don't think I have ever been as impressed with a group of people as I have these."

The Red Cross provided her family with food, clothing and encouragement following the recent flood in Lewis County. Goodwin was one of the residents of Walkersville whose home was devastated by the flood.

She and her three children, who slept with her that night because of the intense lightning, woke up at 4 a.m., floating in their bed on 4 feet of water.

Their losses were massive and included all clothes, toys and personal belongings. With the help of the Red Cross, they have been trying to start over.

"At first they gave out vouchers for us to buy some clothes and food," she said. "Since then, they have been giving out cleaning supplies and even had coloring books, crayons and balloons for the kids."

While a small package of crayons may seem inconsequential to most, it brought a smile to the faces of her children, she said.

"Twenty-four hours a day they are checking on you," she said. "The moral support that comes from these people is unreal. Of all the things they brought, hope was the most important."

She and her children are currently staying with a friend and are looking for a place to live. The Red Cross has provided her with a voucher to pay for the first month's rent.

In an excerpt from a poem Goodwin wrote to the Red Cross, her appreciation was evident:

I closed my eyes one summer night,

Enjoying the sounds of the rain,

Oblivious to the terror coming down around me,

My life never to be the same again.

You dried my tears and held my hand,

And told me it would be okay,

And although I doubted the first time you said it,

I have faith in that statement today.

And I am thankful to the Lord for bringing us you,

And the hope that you brought us in our loss,

And although in the Bible it says angels wear wings,

In my town they all wore a red cross.

The Red Cross is able to provide its disaster services in part due to funding it receives from the United Way.

"About 30 percent of our budget comes from United Way," said Jim Minutelli, executive director of the Red Cross for Harrison County. "They're extremely important."

Last year, United Way contributed $56,000 to the Red Cross and next year that number will increase to $57,000, said Kenneth Moslander, United Way executive director for Harrison County.

This year's United Way fund-raising campaign kicks off with the 10th annual Day in the Park on Sept. 10 at Clarksburg City Park.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1443.

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