Four semi-truckloads of clothing collected in the Brainerd area are bound for Mississippi rather than Camp Ripley.
That decision was made even before official word came Monday that Camp Ripley would not be used as a temporary shelter for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Crow Wing County United Way Executive Director Heidi Funk said Monday afternoon that Camp Ripley had enough clothing to handle the reduced number of evacuees that was expected at the military reservation near Little Falls. Funk said at that time she had been told the number of hurricane survivors due at Camp Ripley on Tuesday was not expected to surpass 100.
Later, word came from state officials that the camp's temporary shelter would be shut down. Last week it appeared that the initial movement would involve 3,000 evacuees.
The quickly organized clothing drive, conducted with the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce, collected about 75 tons of clothing, Funk said.
She said clothing will be distributed to Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi after consultation with Midwest chaplains and Salvation Army officials, who identified areas that had not received much aid yet. The trucks are expected to leave Monday for Mississippi.
The United Way and chambers are no longer collecting clothing but still need monetary donations to defray expenses of the four semi-trucks needed to transport the clothing to Mississippi. Monetary contributions may be sent to UW Hurricane Relief, P.O. Box 381, Brainerd, MN 56401.
United Way officials also need volunteers on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons to help sort the remaining storage unit that's filled with donated clothes, Funk said. Volunteers are needed at Lake Region Storage on Highway 371 to help with sorting and boxing from 3 to 6 p.m. on those days.
Funk expressed appreciation to all of the donors as well as businesses who have made contributions. She said Lake Region Storage has donated the use of 25 storage units, Target has loaned shopping carts and Graphic Packaging of Crosby has coordinated the sorting process.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
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