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Thousands of Utahns are joining in efforts initiated by the American Red Cross, churches, schools and other organizations to aid victims of Hurricane Hugo.

Although the hurricane lashed coasts thousands of miles away, Red Cross and other officials say they hope Utahns will be generous in meeting the needs of countless people who lost their homes and other possessions in the storm late last month.The Bonneville Chapter of the Red Cross, located in Ogden, has chipped in $23,000 to aid people in the Carolinas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Red Cross' Salt Lake Chapter has started a drive to raise approximately $100,000.

Brigham Young University has asked its fans attending Saturday's Western Athletic Conference football game against Wyoming to join in the effort. BYU and the Red Cross are teaming up to solicit donations for the Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund, said university athletic director Glen Tuckett.

"We are saddened by the tragedy. We can help ease the burden of those who have lost so much by contributing financially to the recovery from the devastation," Tuckett said earlier this week.

Earlier, food and other supplies were shipped by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to areas hit hardest by Hugo on the eastern seaboard. Shipments have included water, food, cooking stoves, power generators, propane and tools used in cleanup efforts, emergency-response officials from the church said earlier.

Also joining in the effort are the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, the Catholic Diocese and a number of elementary schools.

John Hamilton, executive director of the Bonneville Red Cross Chapter, said that unit's contribution came on the heels of a local disaster, the Henderson Drive apartment fire, that put a number of people out of their homes and caused a heavy drain on Red Cross resources.

Rescue work from that fire, Hamilton said, cost $23,000, including immediate aid, relocation expenses and other assistance.

Hamilton said the Red Cross collects money, not goods, because money is more efficient for providing the immediate aid needed by people people in a disaster area.

Some people want to collect goods to send to Hugo victims, but he said they face a much harder task than collecting money.

"The logistics are just difficult and when it does get there it might end up in a warehouse somewhere," Hamilton said.

Dallis Pierson, manager of the Red Cross' Salt Lake Chapter, said about $2,000 had been collected as of Thursday from people who heard or read about the plight of those affected by the hurricane. The money was contributed before an organized drive was even under way.

He said the balance of the $100,000 must be raised by a direct mail campaign, through contacts with business and industry and through help from the area United Way.

Pierson said a letter soliciting funds has been mailed to approximately 4,500 former contributors.

The United Way's 1989-90 fund-raising campaign may be completed in mid-November. After that drive ends, Pierson said United Way officials have agreed to approach selected businesses for contributions to aid Hugo victims.

"We feel that it is important to approach businesses in concert with United Way, especially since United Way is in the middle of its campaign," Pierson said.

He said said some elementary schools have approached the Red Cross about raising money but have not made any commitment on the amount they might be able to collect.

"Our staff and volunteers will be going out on speaking engagements in coming weeks. We hope that this effort will mushroom to other schools," Pierson said.

Raising $100,000 is "an awfully big responsibility. But, based on our past experience, we believe citizens of the Salt Lake Valley will help. They already have."