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Officials respond to Red Cross shelter complaints

2 months 4 days 6 hours ago August 22, 2016 Aug 22, 2016 Monday, August 22 2016 August 22, 2016 6:35 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Earl Phelps & Alicia Serrano

BATON ROUGE – People have been taking to social media, upset about how their donations for flood victims have been handled. They claim that the American Red Cross is tossing out the food and clothing they have been given.

The Red Cross says that they are in the business of sheltering disaster victims and not collecting donated items.

"It's not the strength of the Red Cross," Robert Baltodano, of the American Red Cross, said.

"We don't manage material donations as far as food and clothing. We actually partner with community partners restaurants. We stimulate the economy and make sure people get comfort food," Baltodano said.

For safety purposes, Red Cross officials say the agency is required to use certified food vendors and the organization says it does not handle clothing donations.

The State Department of Children and Family Services operates the shelter in Baton Rouge at the River Center, but it is in the process of being transferred to the Red Cross.

"We are proactively working with our partners, particularly the Department of Children and Family Services to make sure where those need are immediately met where donations have been received by our partners are properly organized and distributed with in the shelter," Baltodano said.

Donations are no longer being accepted at the River Center, rather people are being urged to take their donations to other local charitable organizations like St. Vincent DePaul or United Way.

Baltodano says he has an invitation for those who might be critical of the organization's services.

"I invite them to do what I have done. Volunteer and see for yourself how things are being done behind those four walls," Baltodano said.

The Department of Children and Family Services says a health inspector oversees the food preparation at the River Center, but volunteers at the shelter can eat the food that people drop off, rather than those staying at the shelter.

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