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Donations quickly surpass $287 million

Donations quickly surpass $287 million
By David Ho
Palm Beach Post-Cox News Service
Saturday, September 03, 2005

In an unprecedented surge of giving, individuals and companies donated more than $125 million in the past two days to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina, bringing the total to more than $287 million, charities reported Friday.

The pace of donations has exceeded the outpouring after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which tracks charitable giving.

Donations after Sept. 11 took 10 days to reach $239 million and eventually exceeded $1 billion. U.S. donations after last year's South Asian earthquake and tsunami came at a slower pace but reached nearly $1.3 billion.

Even as the money pours in, some charities worry that the disaster's effect on the national economy will cause people to give less over time as they deal with supporting themselves and paying rising energy bills.

Long-term support is critical, charities say, because tens of thousands of displaced people will be in need long after New Orleans is evacuated and the crisis fades from the headlines.

Charities also wonder how long Americans will remain generous after a series of disasters like the tsunami and a wave of hurricanes.

"How many times can you go to the well and expect it to go through without destroying the revenue streams for your ongoing programs?" said Maj. George Hood, spokesman for the Salvation Army, which has received more than $24.5 million in donations.

The bulk of the hurricane donations has gone to the Washington-based American Red Cross, which had raised about $197 million by Friday morning, up from $72 million late Wednesday, spokeswoman Sarah Marchetti said. The group said $80 million came as "major gifts" of $50,000 or more.

Overall, corporate donations have surpassed $95 million, the Chronicle reported.

Wal-Mart made a $15 million cash pledge and donated truckloads of supplies (radio reports say 200 Wal-Mart truckloads of supplies are on their way to New Orleans) and $1 million each to the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. announced a $1 million contribution to the Red Cross and promised to match employee donations. Other big donations were $5 million from the Coca-Cola Co. to $1 million from the New York Yankees.

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