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Wrestling group, arena tag team success for Red Cross

ALBANY, Ga. -- While TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling was in town Friday, the organization teamed up with the Albany Civic Center to help the Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross keep their doors open.

The effort proved to be successful.

A Red Cross table was set up at the arena's box office to take donations prior to the 7:30 p.m. event, and customers in return were able to receive a free voucher for children 12 and under. In all, the organization was able to collect more than $300.

"It was wonderful," said Mari Wright, the chapter's executive director. "Whatever donations were made, that's more than we had.

"It reinforces that people want us here. For sure, we are encouraged."

The money will likely be used to pay the facility's utility bills. More donations have continued to come through the chapter's doors since Monday.

"They are not huge donations, but they are great," Wright said.

The chapter has two major fundraisers planned in the coming months, including a Swamp Gravy production set to take place May 15 at Lee County High School. The auditorium seats 900. To date, 75 tickets have been sold.

Wright said she is confident the event will be well attended.

"I think people are waiting until the last minute to see what happens," she said. "They (the tickets) are here, waiting to be sold."

The name of the production is "The Gospel Truth." Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children aged 12 and under.

In addition, the organization will also be hosting an Oktoberfest celebration. Last year's event attracted approximately 350 people, two hundred more than initially expected.

"People will be more surprised by it this year," Wright said.

In February 2009, donation flow to the chapter was so low that officials were facing the possibility of closing the office's doors. After an appeal was made to the public, residents responded.

The organization has continued to assist house fire victims. In the meantime, Wright said there has recently been an increased interest in their CPR classes.

The executive director also said the chapter expects to release severe weather tips in the coming days.

"May is going to be a tough month for severe weather," she predicted.

The chapter has an 11-county coverage area including Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Crisp, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Miller, Randolph, Terrell and Worth.

The American Red Cross is located at 500 Pine Ave. For more information on their services, call (229) 436-4845.