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Oklahoma tornadoes: Red Cross text donations not designated for Oklahoma

Editor’s Note: After this story was originally published, The American Red Cross reversed course and dedicated donations pledged via text message to Oklahoma disaster reliefs in response to controversy over previous plans to designate the money to the charity’s national fund.

(NEWS OK)   The American Red Cross estimates “several million” dollars have been donated via electronic text messages since a tornado devastated Moore on Monday, but the money is not specifically designated to relief efforts in Oklahoma.

A representative of the local chapter, however, promised money donated to the local organization will be used for relief efforts in Oklahoma.

Ann Marie Borrego, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., verified Tuesday that money donated by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 will instead go toward a national disaster recovery fund.

“Our hearts go out to everyone in Oklahoma,” Borrego said. “When someone texts “REDCROSS” to 90999, that $10 donation goes to the American Red Cross. I could have donated on May 15 and that’s what it would go in. It goes to general disaster relief. It is not designated to Oklahoma or any specific disaster relief.”

Borrego said some of the money donated via text message may end up being used in Oklahoma, and noted the agency has already sent crews into the state to provide food, emergency shelter, aid stations, clean up kits, mobile kitchens and counseling to the tornado victims.

Oklahoma City resident Alicia Sullivan, who has been following news of Monday’s disaster and the outpouring of donations through online social media, is among those concerned that message is not being shared.

“I don’t disagree with helping others,” Sullivan said. “But it should be known to the public that if you’re giving a million to help your neighbors that not all of that million might be going to help them. They should make this clear to people.”

Borrego responds that if people wish to donate to their local chapter — the Oklahoma Red Cross — they should do so via their website. She said she believes the agency clearly expresses how it will use donations sent via text message.

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