- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

The Washington area's United Way yesterday began distributing $834,200 from its September 11th Fund for local relief efforts.

The Salvation Army and the United Service Organizations of Metropolitan Washington (USO) each received $200,000 "in support of their extraordinary work at the Pentagon with the victims and their families," the United Way of the National Capital Area said.

The Salvation Army and USO were also awarded an additional $50,000 each for ongoing relief efforts.

Eleven other groups received between $5,000 and $50,000 to provide emergency assistance, counseling services and legal assistance.

"Today's grants will help those most directly victimized by the attack on the Pentagon," said Norman O. Taylor, the United Way's chief executive officer.

The grants "could not have come at a better time," said Elaine B. Rogers, president of the USO.

The USO responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon by securing hotel rooms for hundreds of victims' families to use while they waited for news of their loved ones, visited hospitalized family members or made burial plans, said Miss Rogers.

But because Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was closed, local hotels couldn't afford to donate their rooms, and the USO had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for the rooms, she said.

This sudden outlay of funds depleted the USO's coffers "and we were getting to a point where we could not have met our bills."

"We were in a crisis situation," said Miss Rogers.

The United Way grants, she said, will both replenish USO accounts and allow the USO to continue supporting military families as they come to Washington for burials and for other attack-related reasons.

The Washington area's September 11th Fund has raised around $2 million from individuals, companies and foundations, said United Way spokesman Tony De Cristofaro. A second round of grants will be made next month to groups providing aid and services to "indirect victims" of the attack, including people who lost their jobs, he said.

Recipients of United Way grants, as of yesterday, were Children's Hospital Foundation; Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C., Inc.; the Mental Health Association of the District of Columbia; Metropolitan Airports Interfaith Chapels Inc.; National Conference for Community and Justice, National Capital Area; SIDS Educational Services Inc.; William Wendt Center for Loss and Hearing; the Women's Center; Boat People S.O.S.; the Fairfax Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program; and the Law Foundation of Prince George's County Inc.

The Washington area's United Way is governed by a 16-member board, including representatives from local government, foundations, unions and corporations.

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