Celebrities hawk human kindness

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    Image is everything – even for the American Red Cross.So it should come as no surprise that the organization paid consultants more than $500,000 in the past three years to spread its name around Hollywood, as The Washington Post reported Monday.

    Of course the Red Cross needs a little help in the image department. Just what are people supposed to think if every time they hear the words “Red Cross” they think of pain and suffering?

    But wait, first-aid kits featuring the Red Cross logo were featured on the Real World? Now that’s a step in the right direction.

    Absurd as that sounds, spokespeople from the American Red Cross want us to believe it. They say the lure of celebrity speaks more for the Red Cross than doing what it is designed to do – helping those who need it the most.

    The Red Cross says paying for media exposure will help boost donations, but if the Red Cross was visible and responsible in the wake of tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and the attacks of 9/11, it seems silly to think it would need to garner any more publicity to boost donations in an era of 24-hour news coverage

    But instead, as the Associated Press reported Monday, as Hurricane Katrina hit, the Red Cross struggled with correctable internal problems – problems it had been aware of since 9/11. The mismanagement led to a sluggish and uneven response to Katrina. Perhaps $500,000 could have gone a long way toward correcting those problems and crafting a reasonable response to an unimaginable disaster?

    The Red Cross is the largest charity in the United States. Americans donate to the organization freely, trusting the Red Cross will fulfill its responsibility to get that money to those in need. High-powered publicists and Hollywood producers were probably not what donators had in mind.

    News editor Mike Dwyer for the editorial board