The Wisconsin State Legislature and the American Red Cross are joining forces in a relief effort for the victims of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks.
In a press conference bringing representatives, senators, citizens, and Red Cross officials together, a new initiative was announced that could have many Wisconsinites sporting commemorative, patriotic license plates on their vehicles.
Representatives Mark Miller, D-Monona, and Kim Plache, D-Racine, along with Suzanne Jeskewitz, R-Menomonee Falls, and Carol Roessler, R-Oshkosh, spearheaded an effort to bring swift bipartisan action allowing for production of the license plates.
“Wisconsin residents responded to this assault with generous donations of their money, their blood and their volunteer time. We wish to provide another opportunity for Wisconsin residents to support families and honor the many heroes of these trying times,” Miller said.
Phil Hanson, director of the Badger chapter of the American Red Cross, accepted the donations on behalf of his organization, which will put the funds to use in the relief effort.
“The September 11 terrorist attacks were the worst disaster our organization has ever faced. The funds from the sale of the license plates will help us to continue efforts to bring comfort and relief to the victims and their families,” he said.
According to the legislation, the plates will be available for one year after they are officially released. The additional fee of $25 for any resident wishing to purchase the plates is funneled directly to the Red Cross. In addition, the $25 is considered a donation to the Red Cross and is tax-deductible.
Sponsors of the legislation are seeking bipartisan approval for the bill to be “fast-tracked,” so production on plates can begin within a month. It is generally expected that the bill will pass without opposition.
Retired Wisconsin firefighter Herbert Fellerer, a member of a license plate-collecting club, came up with the idea for the plates and, through his club, presented the idea to local legislators.
“I’ll feel most satisfied when I walk down the street and see these on the back of people’s cars,” he said.
However, a specific design for the plates has yet to be reached. Both Fellerer and the legislators felt it should be up to the people of Wisconsin to provide designs, which will then be approved by their representatives in Madison.
Applicants may mail any design ideas they have to: “License Plate Design”; P.O. Box 8953; Madison, WI 53708.
“This is a time of solidarity. We were knocked down in tragedy by terrorists. But we are united. And we are standing,” said Sen. Roessler.
In addition to collecting blood supplies, the Red Cross is directly involved in much of the labor work at the attack sites.
Funds are still needed for emergency cash grants to the victims’ families for household costs, shelter, meals and clothing for the workers, as well as grief counseling for all those involved.
Currently, the Red Cross has given emergency health care to 20,000 individuals and has served over one million meals to those associated with the disaster.