One month later: following tornado relief fundraising money

By Ashley McNamee

December 17, 2013 Updated Dec 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- In the month since the storm, donations have been pouring into local organizations to help.

The local Red Cross said it has received about $3 million in donations but concerns have also been mounting about how the money is being spent.

Annmarie Klein and her family lost everything in a matter of seconds that Sunday morning.

"You're going minute to minute, you can't even think," Klein said about the days after the tornado. "I couldn't think about five hours from now what am I going to do to feed these kids."

"It's what we do," said Local Red Cross CEO Anne Fox." We're the Red Cross, it's why we're here."

Fox said in the last month, 1,300 volunteers have served more than 80,000 meals and snacks and handed out more than 30,000 relief items like storage tubs, shovels and blankets.

The organization has also raised nearly $3 million. The $800,000 raised during the "Help on the Homefront" telethon is already spent.

Fox said on average, 70 percent goes to direct assistance, 30 percent goes toward supplies, health services and volunteer costs.

"All those volunteers let donor dollars be really leveraged, we're paying very little in terms of paid staff or overhead," Fox said.

She said, contrary to popular belief, administrative costs are 9 percent of the Red Cross' budget but none of that comes from disaster fundraising.

"Disaster certainly has a low cost because of the number of volunteers," Fox said. "When you think only 9 percent of our workforce is paid that's quite a difference, and that's not paid out of disaster funds because those are all people who are already employed by the Red Cross."

Klein said what the volunteers have done for her is invaluable.

"They've done a fabulous job. I have no complaints," said the mother of five. ""I can't even say how many hours, how much volunteer time and how much effort has gone into organizing it, pulling it together and pulling it off."

Fox said they aren't done yet. She estimates response and recovery efforts will exceed $3.3 million.