Reimbursing Katrina Aid

The recent presidential emergency declaration for Maryland allows county, municipal, state and tribal government agencies, as well as private entities, nonprofit agencies and faith-based organizations, to recoup 100 percent of the costs they incurred in providing emergency help to Hurricane Katrina victims who came to the state. The assistance costs to be covered include those for shelter, food and medical care.

Charles County officials said the Department of Emergency Services has forms and information about the process and documentation required for reimbursement. Interested agencies and organizations should contact the department at 301-609-3401 or 301-609-3429 by Nov. 5.

In addition, any government, tribal or nonprofit agencies, and community and faith-based organizations that have provided services to Katrina victims in the county but have not reported their data to the county's clearinghouse at the Department of Social Services should call the department's Hurricane Katrina hotline at 301-392-6888.

The county is tracking Katrina victims who have come to Charles to get an accurate count and to ensure that they are receiving the services they need or will require.

Need for Blood Endures

During crises such as the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes, many people help by donating blood. But even as those crises ease, American Red Cross officials are urging Southern Marylanders to keep giving blood regularly.

"Blood donations are always needed," said Mike Zabko, head of the Southern Maryland Chapter of the Red Cross. "Our supplies, along with those of the rest of the nation, have been low."

Blood has a shelf life of only 42 days, Zabko said in a statement. The Red Cross encourages appointments for blood donors. "We want to see folks make blood donation a regular part of their life," he said. The toll-free Red Cross number is 800-448-3543.

Real Estate Agent Giving

Long & Foster Real Estate agent Rick Wade of Prince Frederick has said he will donate 10 percent of his commissions over the next six months to help with the relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We've all been moved by the stories and images of the unfortunate people who have suffered at the hand of this devastating hurricane, and this was something I felt I could do to help," Wade said. Details of the campaign can be found at his Web site,

He added, "I will allow my clients to choose which organization these donations will go to, which will give them a more active role in the aid."

The six-month campaign includes any clients who settle transactions before March 31.

Day-Care Center Helps

Reigel Beginning's Daycare in Hughesville recently collected items to donate to Noah's Wish, an animal rescue group.

The group is working in Slidell, La., to help animals left behind when their owners evacuated the area because of Hurricane Katrina.

Children at the day-care center, operated by Lisa M. Reigel, were learning about pets as one of their monthly themes. Kim Sines, a parent of one of the children, suggested that they donate items to help other people's pets as well as learn how to help others in need.