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How you can help tornado victims

Debra Cargill donates blood Thursday with the help of LifeSouth's Stefanie Barker during an emergency drive in Clanton

There are numerous ways Chilton County residents can help people affected by Wednesday’s storms.

Tornadoes ripped across the state, killing at least 160 and injuring many more while leaving scores homeless. The need for money, basic supplies and blood donations is great.

While it isn’t advised for people to go into damaged areas and help with rescues or clean-up, there are many other ways people can help their neighbors in need.

Donations can be made to the American Red Cross by calling (334) 246-4017 or by mailing a check or money order to Red Cross Central Alabama, 5015 Woods Crossing, Montgomery, AL 36106. Add “Alabama Tornado” to the “for” line of the check.

The Red Cross is also accepting donations on its website at www.redcross.org and via text messages by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation. You can also call 1-800-red-cross.

The Red Cross and WSFA 12 News in Montgomery also planned two radio telethons Thursday to help raise money.

The violent storms have also had a severe impact on the state’s blood supply.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers will be holding blood drives to address the current shortage, including drives in Tuscaloosa, which was hardest hit by the catastrophe.

“With so many people killed and injured, the need for blood is both great and widespread,” said LifeSouth Vice President of Operations J.B. Bowles. “Anyone who can donate blood needs to please come forward. It’s one important way to reach out and help.”

Anyone 17 or older, or 16 with parental permission, weighing a minimum of 110 pounds and in good health may be able to donate. A photo ID is also required.

LifeSouth will have its bloodmobiles at numerous locations throughout the region. The bloodmobiles were at the Dollar General in Clanton on Thursday from noon to 5 p.m.

LifeSouth has three donor centers in South Alabama that were all open on Thursday: Regional Headquarters 1601 Eastern Blvd., Montgomery; Opelika Donor Center, 505 E. Thomason Circle, Opelika; Dothan Donor Center, 3833 Ross Circle, Dothan.

Call toll-free (888) 795-2707 for more information.

Many local civic groups and churches are also responding to the need.

Among these groups is the United Methodist Committee on Relief, an arm of the United Methodist Church dedicated to responding to emergency situations both in the U.S. and around the world.

All donations designated “Storms 2011, UMCOR Advance #3021326” will be received at any United Methodist Church or may be mailed to: UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087.

All donations are tax deductible. Every penny donated goes directly to the disaster indicated by the giver.