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Lack Of Donations Results In Cutbacks For Rescue Task Force

The Rescue Task Force, the East County-based international disaster aid organization, announced today that routine activities are being scaled back in response to a drop in donations.

Longtime director Gary Becks said the cutbacks are necessary in order to ensure the nonprofit group is still around the next time a major disaster hits.

"We're not nailing the door shut," Becks said.

The 23-year-old RTF takes donations and supplies to disaster zones, such as Haiti after the earthquake and Indian Ocean nations following the tsunami.

Becks estimated that donations -- many from seniors on fixed incomes -- are down 30 percent this year. And some companies that have helped in recent years have gone out of business, according to Becks.

In the past six to eight months, people who would normally donate $100 began to give $50, or those who handed over money monthly started giving every two months, he said.

"We reflect the economy -- the last two years it's been dire," Becks said. "We've cut, cut, cut all the costs we can."

He said a program that provides backpacks to military children has been taken over by the Armed Services YMCA, and fewer medical and dental teams are being sent to the Honduran jungles.

The problems faced by RTF are also being experienced by other, similar organizations, and it is expected to be several years before donations pick up again, he said.

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