As the East Coast works to recover from superstorm Sandy, there's a way members of the La Crosse community can help.

Volunteers from the Scenic Bluff's Chapter of the Red Cross spent all day Thursday standing outside the La Crosse Center to collect donations to help hurricane victims.

With one hour to go, they've collected $9,868. Their goal was $10,000.

The volunteers finished the night collecting more than $11,000 in donations.

Standing outside of the La Crosse Center, with a big bucket in one hand and a friendly greeting for passing cars in the other, Sylvia Allen is working to raise money for hurricane victims.

“Oh here comes another one,” said Allen. “It's my turn.”

Her strategy is fairly simple.

“Smile and offer them the opportunity to do what their heart's telling them to do,” said Allen.

Allen is a long-time volunteer with the Scenic Bluff's Chapter of the Red Cross, who's not afraid to take the extra steps to make it as easy as possible for people to help out those in need.

“I'll come around on that side,” said Allen as she walked around a car ready to donate. “It's easier.”

She and her husband John started traveling to volunteer at disasters right after 9/11.

“He was my partner in crime,” said Allen.

Since then they've supported each other through nearly a dozen disasters.

“We had shared experiences, and we could say something like, ‘Remember that child that offered to give you 17 cents?’ and we could talk about that, and we understood what each other meant,” said Allen.

But helping with superstorm Sandy's relief effort is different for Allen.

This past June, her husband, her partner in crime and in life, lost his battle to cancer.

“I feel like we're just continuing what we were doing,” said Allen. “It’s a good thing to do but I miss him, of course.”

She won't be traveling for this disaster, but she said collecting generous donations from strangers is her little way of helping.

“Once you get bitten by that disaster bug, it’s in your veins,” said Allen. “You just have the condition, and you have to keep going to disasters and working them.”

People can also send a donation to the American Red Cross at: 2927 Lose Blvd. South, La Crosse, WI, 54601.

People can also text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or donate by calling 1-800 Red Cross.


Volunteers from the Scenic Bluffs Chapter of the American Red Cross will be outside the La Crosse Center on Thursday to accept monetary donations from the community that will go toward hurricane relief efforts.

The money raised will help provide food, shelter and support for victims of Superstorm Sandy.