By WILLIAM KINCAID
Mercer County residents donated more than $53,000 to the American Red Cross on Saturday for Hurricane Katrina victims, county commissioners reported this morning.
Elected and appointed county officials worked with local fire departments from Burkettsville, Celina, Chattanooga, Chickasaw, Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Mendon, Montezuma, Rockford and St. Henry on the countywide drive. The firehouses acted as collection stations for monetary donations from citizens.
"It was overwhelming," Mercer County Commissioner Jim Zehringer said this morning.
He said many donations also were accompanied by amazing stories.
"One man gave his house payment for the month," Zehringer said. "He said they (hurricane victims) needed more than we do." Zehringer also said one family stayed home and donated their vacation money, while another woman donated her Christmas club money.
Celina residents donated $11,000 during the Saturday morning collection effort, according to Mercer County Dispatcher Monte Diegel. He said children brought pennies and dimes in Ziploc bags, while adults contributed anywhere from $20 to $100, in addition to a single $500 donation.
"It certainly ran the scope with people's generosity," Diegel said.
The Auglaize-Mercer County Red Cross said that 100 percent of the money collected will go to the hurricane victim relief efforts.
Celina middle, intermediate and east and west elementary schools also have decided to work together to help the people of Hattiesburg, Miss., a city destroyed by the hurricane.
The schools will be collecting disaster relief supplies and are asking local residents to help.
Supplies will be collected today and Wednesday at each school. On Wednesday evening the supplies will be loaded on a semi-truck and shipped to a Hattiesburg church, where the items will be dispersed to those in need.
The trip to Mississippi is being funded by local businessman Tom Case, who is providing a semi-truck, a driver and the fuel.
The following supplies are needed: bottled water, non-perishable goods/food items, baby formula, diapers, sleeping bags, blankets, air mattresses, pillows, medical supplies, antibiotic cream and Band-aids.
Fort Recovery Elementary School also reported it is collecting money this week. Students will try and match every dollar donated by the faculty. Elementary Principal Nancy Knapke said the project is expected to grow as parents get involved.