Area residents continue outpouring of support for hurricane victims

Benefit carnival gives another chance to add to already impressive donation totals

So far, Lawrence and Douglas County residents have donated about $117,000 to the American Red Cross to aid Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, a Red Cross official said Saturday.

“I can’t believe it. I’ve just never seen such an outpouring. This is amazing,” said Wendy Leedy, programs director for the Douglas County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

With dozens of events in the past two weeks, the current total does not include contributions made through the Internet, Leedy said.

Saturday, one area fundraiser was a Hurricane Katrina Benefit Carnival at The Windsor of Lawrence. For 50 cents, children took turns plunging each other into a dunk tank or jumping on the inflated Moon Walk, which was shaped like a castle.

“In the dunk tank, some of the kids have given people tickets to dunk themselves instead of trying to get others wet,” said Amy Homer, residence director of The Windsor.

The carnival also featured a silent auction for children, residents of the assisted-living home and the public, Homer said.

The Windsor raised about $670 to donate to the Red Cross. Homer also said about 200 people attended festivities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We thought the small stuff would add up to the big and we could make a contribution,” Homer said.

Saturday afternoon, Luke Whitaker, 11, a Wakarusa Valley School student, and Caylor Norris, 11, a Sunflower School student, hopped around the Moon Walk.

“It feels good to know just that we’re helping the people who need it,” Norris said.

Leedy said a carnival benefit was the most unique fundraiser so far.

“It has been wonderful to see adults and youth come together for such a cause and working together and be so supportive of those impacted,” she said.

With more area benefits scheduled in coming days, donations will increase, Leedy said. The Douglas County chapter has seven volunteers in the Gulf Coast region, and Leedy said she expected more to be deployed at some point.

By the numbers

¢ $117,000: Estimated donations to Douglas County Chapter of American Red Cross as of Saturday, excluding online donations.
¢ $670: Money raised at Benefit Carnival at The Windsor of Lawrence on Saturday.
¢ $688.9 million: Nationally, gifts and pledges for hurricane relief Red Cross has received as of Thursday for hurricane relief effort, according to
¢ $329 million: Estimated donations made online to Red Cross through Thursday.