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IN THE NEWS - November 24, 2001: American Red Cross - 2001-11-23

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

Since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September, Americans have given millions of dollars to help thousands of victims and their families. A lot of that money was given to the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross collected more than five-hundred-million dollars for this purpose in what it called the Liberty Fund. Recently, Red Cross officials admitted that they were not giving the families all the money that was collected. They said the Liberty Fund was created to help the victims of the September attacks, and also to help victims of future attacks. The officials said they regretted that the American public did not understand this.

Last week, Red Cross officials announced a major change in policy. They said all the money given to the Liberty Fund would be used only to help the victims of the September Eleventh attacks and their families. The money will help families pay costs of daily living such as housing and food for up to one year.

Immediately after the terrorist attacks, the Red Cross provided money for three months of living costs to more than two-thousand families of people who were killed. Red Cross officials say the organization also provided support to about twenty-three-thousand other families who were affected by the terrorist attacks. These included rescue workers and people who could not go back to their homes near the World Trade Center in New York City. Business people who lost their workplaces also received help.

However, the Red Cross planned to use about half the money given to the Liberty Fund for future programs. It wanted the money to increase blood supplies, improve communications and expand services for families of people serving in the military forces. Individuals who had given money to the Liberty Fund reacted strongly to this news. They expected their money to be used immediately to help victims of the attacks. Red Cross officials now say the Liberty Fund will be repaid for any money already used for other projects.

The American Red Cross has been active for more than one hundred years. Its policy has been to keep some of the money given after a tragedy to prepare for future emergencies. Officials say the organization’s appeals are supposed to tell people that the money will be used to help victims of the current emergency or similar ones. They have promised to investigate to see if the message is clear enough to the people who give their money.

Red Cross officials say any relief organization needs build up an amount of money to help victims of smaller emergencies. The American Red Cross says it provides aid services in about sixty-thousand emergency situations each year such as fires, floods, storms and accidents.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.