Fairfax area civic, religious and business organizations are calling on county residents to donate money to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In addition, school officials announced that families displaced by the disaster who are staying with friends or family members in Fairfax County can enroll their children in county schools.

Volunteer Fairfax, the county's lead nonprofit agency for recruiting and deploying volunteers during an emergency, issued a statement saying the organization had received several requests from people about how to contribute to the relief efforts.

Its response: Financial contributions are preferred.

"Cash donations help to avoid the labor and expense of sorting, packing, transporting and distributing donated goods, and relief agencies can use cash to meet hurricane victims' specific needs more quickly," said the statement, issued by Emily Swenson, director of programs.

Fairfax County Faith Communities in Action, an interfaith organization, made a similar plea to county religious institutions and faith-based groups.

"The devastation exceeds our abilities to comprehend the loss of both life and living," the interfaith organization said in a statement. "In addition to prayers, we strongly encourage each community to reach out to those in great pain and help them with desperately needed resources. We call upon each person to help in some way."

The statement was signed by the Rev. Ronald F. Christian, director of the Lutheran Housing Services, Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, and Rabbi David Kalender of Congregation Olam Tikvah.

The business community also joined in the appeal.

At 5 p.m. tomorrow, the Annandale Chamber of Commerce is hosting a hurricane benefit with food, music and what it described as networking opportunities for business leaders. The fundraising goal is $50,000.

The event will be at the Heritage Center, Building 4, 7619 Little River Turnpike. A representative from the American Red Cross will be there to receive donations.

Other sponsors are Royal Management & Development Inc., the Heritage Center, Trammell Crow Company and the Annandale Rotary Foundation.

County firefighters pitched in over the Labor Day weekend, donating half of the contributions from the annual "fill the boot" drive for muscular dystrophy to a hurricane relief fund set up by the International Association of Fire Fighters.


Hurricane Katrina evacuee Dwayne Lewis Jr., 2, holds a teddy bear given to him at a rest area on Interstate 10 near Harlingen, Tex. Local relief groups are seeking financial contributions to assist hurricane victims.