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Red Cross delays drive

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By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The sour economy and bad publicity after the Sept. 11 attacks have prompted the Winston-Salem-based Northwest North Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross to delay for two years a $6 million capital campaign that was to have begun in January 2004.

The funds are needed to rebuild or replace the chapter’s 35-year-old building at 690 Coliseum Drive that is outmoded and in need of repair, says Marcia Cole, executive director.

“It’s become a huge dinosaur,” she says.

Problems range from cramped space, a leaky roof and malfunctioning heat and ventilation to a worn-out elevator and poor access for handicapped persons, she says.

The chapter — serving Forsyth, Stokes, Davie and Yadkin counties — also needs parking spaces, a garage for its new $200,000 emergency vehicle and a physical connection to the blood center next door.

Cole says news reports about the Red Cross’ handling of Sept. 11 donations were unfair but could hurt a fund drive now.

The Red Cross, for example, was criticized for throwing out 8 percent of blood it collected and not spending all of the $988 million it received right after Sept. 11 – a total now exceeding $1 billion.

But half the blood came from first-time donors and 5 percent of it could not be used, while giving away money too quickly without screening requests for relief would have been irresponsible, Cole says.

“The public was told true numbers but not the whole story,” she says.

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