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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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State Red Cross cutting more staff

John Miller Associated Press

BOISE – The Red Cross of Greater Idaho said it will trim more staff in August as it continues to rely more on volunteers because of fewer donations in the absence of major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

The organization will eliminate four district director positions in Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene on Aug. 3, replacing them with two regional directors, who should be hired by the end of this month, said Kim Peck, the Idaho chapter’s chairwoman.

That means paid staff in Idaho will be cut to 10, or half the employees of a year ago. The organization made the previous reductions public in May.

As do other state chapters, the Idaho Red Cross aids disaster victims, including victims of house fires; provides first aid, CPR, baby-sitting, lifesaving and other training; offers educational services; and provides emergency connections for members of the armed services and their families.

The Idaho chapter isn’t alone in cutting back: Seventy percent of American Red Cross chapters, including Idaho and Utah, have reported charitable contributions that trail their budget forecasts. Peck said her chapter is among those joining a national push to rely more on volunteers to help people in crisis.

“You shouldn’t see a difference – that’s our goal,” she said, adding there are no plans to close any of the regional offices. “Someone will be there to answer the phones, and heaven forbid you have a house fire, we’ll show up like we always have. But we’re going to do it more with volunteers.”

In 2006, the Red Cross of Greater Idaho recorded 805 volunteers, fewer than half the 1,900 its national organization estimates it should have for an area with Idaho’s population. Past leaders may have focused too much on accomplishing tasks with paid staff, possibly neglecting volunteer recruitment, she said.

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