Red Cross overwhelmed with war donations - East Valley Tribune: News

Red Cross overwhelmed with war donations

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2003 10:05 pm | Updated: 1:55 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

More than 65 boxes spilling over with crackers, cookies, lip balm, plastic bags, toothpaste and cameras are stacked in Shelley Hall's Scottsdale laundry room, ready to be shipped to troops overseas.

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Another 65 are waiting to be loaded with batteries, tissues, hand sanitizer and other comforts.

"Oh my gosh, I look like Costco," joked Hall, whose son Richard Gooding is stationed in Kuwait. "I've just stopped working because I'm tired and I'm out of boxes."

Hall is not the only one overwhelmed.

The generosity of those wishing to ship packages to American soldiers overseas has been so abundant that the American Red Cross recently placed a moratorium on its Quality of Life Program. The program ensures donated goods are safely received and distributed to American troops stationed abroad.

In the first 10 days of the war, the national program stockpiled four months' worth of goods. The Grand Canyon Chapter received more than 300 calls from people wishing to send packages to soldiers. One woman, who worked at a greeting card shop, donated blank cards that soldiers could send home.

"We had quite a tremendous outpouring," said Andrea McCauley, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter. While the support is admirable, it bogs the system down, she said.

People like Hall, who arranged early on to have her packages inspected and received by the Red Cross stationed in the Middle East, can still send their goods through the program, as can those sending packages to specific people.

Everyone else should wait at least three months, and consider donating blood, McCauley said. The American Red Cross and United Blood Services are designated to ship blood to troops overseas should needs arise.

This recent outpouring of support is a natural response in stressful times, said Margaret Waller, Arizona State University associate professor of social work.

"One of the most powerful coping strategies is caretaking," said Waller, who specializes in the study of resilience. "Particularly in situations where people feel helpless, caretaking gives them a job and makes them feel like there is something they can contribute. And that in turn lowers people's anxiety level."

Hall, who collected goods at a rally sponsored by KFYI radio, said her efforts make her feel like she is doing something for her son and his comrades.

Gooding, 24, was married in June and is a communications specialist in the 3rd Infantry with the 123rd Signal Battalion stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga. He is preparing to move into Iraq.

Hall is still seeking monetary donations to cover shipping. Asked how she feels, Hall said: "Anxious."

Just to let them know we care is important," she said. "Emotional support is more important than physical support at this time."

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