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U.S. Open fans open wallets, hearts

NEW YORK -- Tennis fans renowned for buying pricey crepes
and cappuccinos opened their hearts as well as wallets at the U.S.
Open to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Instead of hawking programs, students asked fans to dig deep to
help those suffering on the Gulf Coast. In just a week, a handful
of juniors from Dwight-Englewood School in New Jersey raised almost
$50,000 for the American Red Cross.

That will supplement the $500,000 already promised by the U.S.
Tennis Association. The students wanted to help and approached the
Red Cross and the USTA.

"It was the perfect venue," said volunteer Michael Miura.

Some contributors were from the Gulf Coast, having left before
the storm or fled in the aftermath.

Attorney Ray Solomon's son, Neil, was a volunteer. He said
nearly a dozen donors were from the affected region, including a
Mississippi woman who stopped by the Red Cross booth four times,
donating each time, asking only one thing: Please don't forget her
state.

A Shreveport, La., resident, who had Open tickets before Katrina
hit, had 46 displaced people in his home before he left for New
York. Students from badly damaged Tulane University, wearing their
school T-shirts, stopped by the Red Cross booth, Ray Solomon said.
Some were being taken in by East Coast schools.

For people who didn't know what they would face back home, of if
they had a home left, coming to the Open seemed a temporary escape
from a harsh reality, said USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier.

In other Katrina relief developments:

" The NFL has designated the second week of its season as
"Hurricane Relief Weekend," which will culminate with a
fund-raising telethon that will be part of ABC's "Monday Night
Football," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

Under the theme of "Recover & Rebuild," the NFL, its clubs,
network television partners -- ABC, CBS, ESPN and FOX -- and sponsors
will use the Sept. 18-19 games to raise funds and bring attention
to the massive needs of the Gulf Coast region.

"The Gulf Coast and our entire nation face extraordinary
challenges," Tagliabue said. "We will continue to do our part to
contribute to the recovery and rebuilding process. The weekend of
what should have been the Saints' first home game in New Orleans
this year is an appropriate time for a special leaguewide effort to
focus on the restoration of the Gulf Coast."

" Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay donated $100,000 and bidders
offered another $26,000 for jerseys, helmets and footballs
autographed by Peyton Manning as part of a radio auction. Including
the donation by Irsay, the Colts said the five-hour auction on WFBQ
drew more than 5,000 calls and raised $311,975.

"It was an amazing event," said Tom Zupancic, the Colts'
senior vice president of business development. "An unbelievable
outpouring of generosity from throughout the country enabled us to
provide some relief for the people who are suffering."

" Shaquille O'Neal and his wife, Shaunie, are coordinating a
relief effort by setting up collection boxes at eight El Dorado
furniture stores in South Florida through Saturday. The public can
donate items to be sent to Baton Rouge, La., where O'Neal played at
LSU.

" LeBron James helped load four tractor-trailers with diapers,
school supplies, food and other items for victims of Hurricane
Katrina.

The Cleveland Cavaliers' star spent about $120,000 in two hours
Thursday at a Sam's Club warehouse store in Fairlawn, Ohio, near
his hometown of Akron. The goods will be sent to Houston, Louisiana
and Mississippi.

" Chicago Bulls guard Chris Duhon, whose hometown of Slidell,
La., was ravaged by the hurricane, has organized three supply
drives in the Chicago area.

Emergency items such as hygiene products, toiletries, bottled
water, nonperishable food items, new clothing, new shoes and baby
products will be collected. The donations will be transported to
Slidell by moving vans and coordinated in conjunction with Slidell
Mayor Ben Morris.

" The Boston Celtics will team up with Habitat for Humanity
International to help rebuild homes. The Celtics' players, owners,
coaches and staff will match each donation made through the team's
Web site -- www.celtics.com.

" Boston's David Ortiz and Los Angeles Angels' Vladimir Guerrero
will donate $50,000 each to the relief effort. The Dominicans hope
other major leaguers will join them.

"The United States has provided my family and me with more than
we could have ever dreamed," Ortiz said. "I'll never forget the
way Red Sox fans and the team's owners helped my country after the
floods last year."

Red Sox fans have given nearly $185,000 to the Red Cross in six
days.

" The San Diego Padres said they collected $47,252 at the gates
Wednesday night and $250,000 from the Linden Root Dickinson
Foundation for a total of $297,352 that will be given to the Red
Cross. The Padres also will raise money at a "Beat LA" pennant
push event Saturday, when fans can watch the team's road game
against the Dodgers on the video board at the Park at the Park,
just beyond the outfield at Petco Park. An online auction will
continue through Oct. 3.

" PGA Tour star Vijay Singh and wife Ardena have donated $75,000,
with $50,000 going to the American Red Cross and $25,000 to the
United Way of New Orleans.

"This is a time when we all must come together to support the
relief efforts of these people in need," Singh said.

" Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will donate $50 for
every passing yard and $250 for any touchdown pass in Sunday's
opener against Tennessee to the American Red Cross. The Steelers'
autograph party Tuesday at Heinz Field raised $113,000. All-pro
Alan Faneca, a former star at LSU, stayed for the entire four-hour
session.

" The Tennessee Titans will host an eight-hour blood drive in the
club area of The Coliseum on Sept. 17. Fans are encouraged to bring
cash or nonperishable food for the Second Harvest Food Bank, which
is helping area shelters. Volunteers will collect money before the
Titans' home opener against Baltimore on Sept. 18.

" The Houston Texans are asking fans who can't make it to the
home opener Sept. 18 against the Pittsburgh Steelers to donate
their tickets to hurricane refugees.

" The Westminster Kennel Club has donated $20,000 to agencies in
Louisiana and Texas to help recover and shelter lost pets.