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Businesses and Organizations Prepare for Hurricane Relief

Several Louisville-area organizations are preparing to help eastern states in the path of Hurricane Irene.

Louisville Gas and Electric crews have been sent to Pennsylvania and Virginia to help restore power, should lines be damaged. Crews from other states often come to Kentucky during severe outages.

The Bluegrass chapter of the American Red Cross has sent volunteers to the east as well to help with any necessary relief efforts. While many Salvation Army chapters in the hurricane’s path have been mobilized, the Louisville chapter has been put on standby.

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This Year’s Annual “30 Hour Famine” To Benefit Haiti

by Dalton Main

A group of Louisville teens are fasting this weekend to raise awareness of worldwide hunger problems, and to raise money for starving children abroad.

The annual ‘30 Hour Famine’ begins Friday evening. Organizer Samantha Thomeczek says the group is fasting, soliciting donations and serving food to the hungry at the Cathedral of the Assumption.

“When they served the food to the homeless of Louisville, they could kind of be more compassionate and understand that these people might feel that everyday,” she says.

Thomeczek says the event helps the teens feel some solidarity with those going hungry in the world. The 30 Hour Famine is an international event coordinated by World Vision charity. All donations will benefit children.

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Day Of Service Exposes Need For Volunteers

Saturday is an official citywide day of service. And the event has exposed a strong need for volunteers and charity across the city.

Mayor Greg Fischer and the Metro United Way first put out the call for volunteers and projects for those volunteers to work on late last year. Kelly Garvey with the United Way says she expected about 30 nonprofits to submit projects, and about 300 people to volunteer.

But 64 projects were submitted and more than 700 volunteers signed up. Garvey says one thousand volunteers were requested, but the registration had to be closed Thursday for organizational reasons.

Garvey says volunteers are welcome to sign up for other projects on other days.

“I don’t want to give the impression that days of service are just one day here or there,” she says. “There are opportunities listed and needs happening every day.”

Fischer has said more days of service will likely be declared. Volunteers who still want to help this weekend are being asked to donate goods to the needy or volunteer with Brightside.

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Zoo Meets Goal For Glacier Run Fundraising

The Louisville Zoo’s fundraising campaign for the Glacier Run exhibit is over due to last-minute donations that helped the zoo secure a matching grant.

In the fall of 2008, the Kresge Foundation promised to donate $900 thousand if the zoo could raise about $8 million by the end of this year.

Director John Walzack says as of last month, the zoo was still several hundred thousand dollars short of that goal.

“These are certainly trying economic times, but we had faith and we are so overwhelmed by the generosity of our community that we just always had a positive outlook that were going to meet this goal,” he says.

Humana and the Ogle Foundation gave two large donations to top off the campaign. The money will go toward two exhibits within Glacier Run, both of which will open in 2012. The polar bear exhibit will open this spring.

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Donations, Volunteers Decline For Salvation Army

The Salvation Army went into their holiday fundraising campaign with an optimistic goal of 500 thousand dollars from the Louisville area. That would be an 18 thousand-dollar increase over last year.

But that optimism hasn’t matched up with reality this holiday season.

Donations are down this year for the Salvation Army. And the major issue isn’t so much a lack of generosity from the donors who pass by the Salvation Army’s red kettles and bell ringers. A bigger problem is a lack of bell ringers. The Salvation Army organizes volunteers into shifts at each of the 55-kettle locations in the Louisville area. According to Salvation Army Major Keath Biggers, more than a few shifts have gone unfilled:

“I would say three to four hundred shifts less than last year being covered, which a shift being a three-hour period during the day,” he says.

The holiday season is when the Salvation Army raises most of the money that it uses to operate throughout the year. That money goes to pay for food and shelter for the homeless among other programs.

The Salvation Army is still accepting volunteers through its website.

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Coat Giveaway Draws Hundreds On Tuesday Morning

The line stretched for nearly a block this morning at St. Vincent de Paul’s annual coat giveaway Tuesday.

The charitable organization gives away coats collected by a young girl in Indiana every year. This year, they had more than four thousand coats to distribute. Spokesperson Linda Romine attributes the above-average turnout for the coats to the extreme cold weather.

“We had people lined up outside the Cathedral of the Assumption all the way to 5th Street,” she says. “And there was a steady line out to door to 5th Street for about the first full hour we were open.”

She says there’s also been a greater demand for St. Vincent de Paul’s services in recent years.

“Since the recession hit in 2008 requests for assistance are up about 70%. That’s seven zero percent…in all areas,” says Romine.

Operation White Flag is in effect in Louisville, meaning shelters take on additional tenants during cold weather. Romine says St. Vincent de Paul’s men’s shelter has been full for most of the month.

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Donations To Metro United Way Increase

The Metro United Way’s 2010 fundraising campaign is on track to top last year’s efforts.

By this time last year, the organization had brought in 24.5 million dollars. So far, 24.8 million dollars has been raised for the current campaign. Spokesperson Mark Zanni says at this pace, the United Way could surpass the 27.1 million dollars raised in total last year.

“If that’s the case, that will be a tremendous achievement and it would reverse the trend of the last couple years where we have seen less amounts raised each year,” he says.

Zanni says the need was too great for the United Way to set a goal for this year’s campaign. Instead, he says donors were asked to make larger contributions than they have in previous years.

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Metro United Way To Celebrate Fundraising Campaign

The Metro United Way will celebrate its 2010 fundraising campaign Wednesday.

The ceremony does not mark the end of the campaign, which runs through March. Instead, officials will give an update on this year’s fundraising. While previous campaigns have sought to raise nearly 30 million dollars each year, spokesperson Mark Zanni says there was no goal for 2010.

“This year, we knew that the need was so large, we could never meet the total needs of our community,” he says. “Our goal was really an ask. We asked people, if they could give, to give 110%.”

Zanni won’t reveal how much money has been raised until Wednesday morning, but he says by all indications, donors have been generous. He says if this year’s campaign is successful, the United Way may not set a goal for next year’s campaign, either.

By this time last year, the United Way had raised more than $24 million toward its $28.5 million goal.

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Salvation Army Short On Volunteers

Local Salvation Army officials say they are in desperate need of bell-ringers for this year’s red kettle fundraising campaign.

The campaign began on November 1st. Major Keath Biggers says 171 volunteers have signed up to stand with the kettles. That’s less than half the number that signed up by this time last year. Biggers says more volunteers are needed to help raise half a million dollars by Christmas Eve. If the money doesn’t come in, he says the Salvation Army will need to rethink its finances.

“We would have to look at other sources of possible revenue that we have not thought of yet, or measures of reducing operations,” he says. “We’re already on a shoestring budget and have been for the last three years.”

Last year’s fundraising goal was also half a million dollars. Biggers says they raised 482 thousand. That’s one hundred thousand dollars above the previous year’s total.

To help bring in more money, the Salvation Army has expanded its capacity to accept donations, through text messages. Also, many kettles in Louisville will have credit card scanners on them.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to make it easier, but we’re also in desperate, desperate need this year of volunteers,” says Biggers.

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Family And Children's Place Receives Grant For New Facility

Kosair Charities Tuesday presented a two million dollar grant to the Family and Children’s Place in Louisville. The donation will go toward a comprehensive center for abused children.

Family and Children’s Place is seeking to renovate a building in Old Louisville to use as a new headquarters, and the grant from Kosair puts the charity near the halfway point of its 11 million capital campaign.

President Dan Fox says, once complete, the facility will combine a shelter for abused children with offices that provide legal and medical services.

“The crimes against children unit from Metro Police that deals with sexual abuse, all the criminal activities toward children; a special unit of Child Protective Services that deals with child abuse, child sexual abuse; we’ll have medical services here. We’ll have space for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s staff who want to be here,” he says.

Fox adds that putting the offices in the shelter facility can prevent additional trauma.

“The child’s sexual abuse is the first trauma, then when it’s reported and the secret is finally out there can be another secondary trauma when the child has to go place to place and person to person and tell their story again and again and again,” he says.

Fox hopes to open the new shelter next summer.