CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Local officials with the American Red Cross are kicking off a campaign to collect money for victims of house fires.
"We just have so many fires in West Virginia," said Red Cross West Virginia Region spokeswoman Krista Farley Raines. "On average, two families a day in West Virginia lose everything in a house fire."
Over the course of the past year, Red Cross staff and volunteers stepped in to help about 750 families affected by house fires in the state, Raines said. In December alone, volunteers responded to 70 fires in West Virginia.
"We had five yesterday," Raines said Friday.
On average, the Red Cross provides $1,250 in assistance to every family they help in a house fire. Red Cross staff are asking individuals or corporations to donate $1,250 -- enough to help an average family -- as part of their Heroes for Fire Victims program. The program kicks off Wednesday and runs through March 30.
Raines said local Red Cross groups gave about $500,000 in direct financial assistance to West Virginia families over he course of the year. In addition to helping fire victims, Red Cross staff and volunteers helped 60 families affected by flooding or storm damage, she said. Raines said local Red Cross staff are still helping families recover from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
"Everything we do is reliant on donations," Raines said. "We receive no federal funding."
Nor are the vast majority of Red Cross relief workers paid.
"These are volunteers," Raines said. "These aren't paid staff who go out in the middle of the night to help these families."