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Charities hit hard by jump in gas prices

March 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
When it comes to the jump in gas prices, California has grabbed the top spot, averaging the highest gas prices in the U.S. Prices jumped as much 20 cents in some places in just a week.

The average price per gallon Friday ran $3.85 in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area.

Charities that depend on vehicles to do their work are being hit hard.

At a main distribution center for the American Red Cross in Pomona, delivery vehicles are on the go just about all the time. In fact, they drive about 30,000-35,000 miles every month. High gas prices are really affecting charitable organizations.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week the Pomona Red Cross facility is processing, packing and shipping blood to hospitals and trauma centers all over the Southland.

It is work that requires not only manpower, but truck-power. So when gas prices started to climb, so did the cost to the non-profit organization.

"We're looking at reducing cost in a number of ways," said Nick Samaniego, public affairs manager at the Red Cross. "This is a big priority for the organization. So now that the gas prices are going up we are looking at additional things we can do, like consolidating our driver routes or relying more on the couriers that are delivering blood to the hospitals."

One of those couriers that Red Cross is using these days is Diane Novack, who is suffering from the high cost of gas.

"It's really hurting us a lot because we pay for our own gas and we get paid by the route, by the delivery," said Novack. "So we can get paid the same for delivery today as we get paid tomorrow, but we have to pay more gas tomorrow."

Another charity hit hard by the gas prices is the Salvation Army and their popular Meals on Wheels volunteer program.

"We are short on volunteers right now and I think the gas prices have something to do with that, and so with fewer volunteers, we have to use more of our own vehicles and staff time to do that. Which is difficult because that adds more cost on to us," said Salvation Army Capt. Rio Ray.

Also clothing and furniture donations are way down too as people just don't want to get in their cars and drive except for a very good reason.

For courier Diane Novack, the Red Cross is a good reason.

"A big part for me is that I am delivering for the Red Cross and it's life and death for someone. So that makes a difference to me," said Novack.

If you volunteered for any charitable organization and you drive your car you should know that the IRS does give you a tax deduction and that is 14 cents per mile. Of course that doesn't exactly offset the cost of fuel but it does help.