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Four more volunteers from the southern counties of the Northwest Ohio Region of the American Red Cross have been deployed to New Jersey, prepared to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Rodney Knauss of Van Wert, Colleen and Richard Bekemeier of Wapakoneta, and Jean Schroeder of Ottawa left from the Allen County Chapter at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, heading for Ocean, N.J. They will help at Red Cross shelters.

"Having a trained, prepared, and ready-to-help team of volunteers is one of the most valuable resources a community can rely on when disaster strikes," said Mark Klausing, Disaster Services chairman for the Van Wert Red Cross. "We are grateful for the dedication of our chapter volunteers and their willingness to help wherever there is need."

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, almost 11,000 people spent Monday night in more than 250 Red Cross shelters across 16 states. The Red Cross is helping people with safe shelter, food and water and a shoulder to lean on. The Red Cross has mobilized 1,700 disaster workers from all over the country who have served more than 25,000 meals and snacks so far. Red Cross has also activated 167 response vehicles and shipped in more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals.

The response to Sandy is very large and very costly and the Red Cross is asking people to help with relief efforts. To donate visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Monetary gifts enable the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter at 208 E. Main St. Van Wert,OH 45891.

Nearly 325 Red Cross blood drives in 13 states have already been cancelled due to the storm, and more are expected. This represents a loss of as many as 11,000 blood and platelet products. The Red Cross is asking people who are eligible to give blood especially in places not affected by the storm, to schedule a blood donation now.

To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, you must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. The next bloodmobile in Van Wert County is at the American Legion on Nov. 29 from 12:30 to 6:30.

The Red Cross shipped blood products to hospitals in affected areas ahead of the storm as patients will still need blood and platelets despite the weather.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.