Waterbury-based Webster Bank is among the Connecticut organizations that have reached out to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

For many Connecticut residents, the best way to help those displaced by Hurricane Katrina has been to go online and make a donation to the American Red Cross or another of the many organizations providing food and shelter. But some Connecticut residents hope to help victims of the hurricane more directly.

Individuals and families from all over Connecticut have been offering up rooms for children, pets and entire families who were affected by the hurricane. Craigslist.org, an online bulletin board, has set up sections of its Web sites dedicated to temporary housing, missing people and jobs, and Connecticut residents have posted several housing and job opportunities.

Meanwhile, banks and real estate companies across the state have been organizing to raise money for victims of the hurricane, which slammed into the nation’s Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.

Joe Lanzetto, a market researcher who works from his home in Hartford, is one of the Connecticut residents who has offered spare rooms and other help to a family from New Orleans.

“We have plenty of room here and I just thought it was something we could do to help people,” Lanzetto said. “We don’t have a lot of spare cash to give.”

Lanzetto lives with his wife, Lisa, their 6-year-old daughter and their dog. It was Lanzetto’s idea to open the extra two rooms in their home, and his wife immediately agreed. So he posted an ad on the New Orleans section of craigslist, offering the space to a small family as well as help getting any students enrolled in the local schools. Lanzetto said he believes it will be several months before people can return to the city.

“They’re using the word ‘refugee,’ and it’s true,” he said.

Lanzetto had not received a response late last week, but he thinks it might be awhile before people living in temporary shelters have any access to the Internet. In the meantime, Lanzetto and his family are waiting, and other Connecticut families continue to offer space in their homes to people affected by the hurricane.

Some families have been offering to take in children or teenagers while their parents rebuild. One Simsbury family that often takes in high school exchange students offered to “welcome your kids and make them feel as part of the family.” Another family – empty nesters in East Granby – offered two bedrooms and a private bathroom to Katrina victims, writing, “Let us help you get back on your feet.”

Although it is difficult for many of the victims to access the Internet now, the system can nonetheless be effective, federal officials told the Associated Press.

“That kind of system, individual to individual, is a great way to go,” said David Passey, a spokesman with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “There are a lot of great Americans out there.”

‘Enormous Need’

Businesses across Connecticut are also doing their share, with banks taking donations and real estate agencies giving money to the Red Cross. The Connecticut Association of Realtors has put in its weekly newsletter an appeal from the president of the National Association of Realtors for real estate agents to donate to the relief efforts. NAR is donating $1 million to relief efforts. CAR also will make a donation, according to spokeswoman Michelle Doyon, but the amount had not been determined at press time.

Prudential Connecticut Realty has designated its 63 Connecticut offices, which are open seven days a week, as drop-off points for donations to the Red Cross. The organization is hoping for donations like batteries, bottled water, nonperishable food and snack items, diapers, tents and tarps.

“One of the core values of Prudential Connecticut Realty is service. At this time of enormous need in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, we urge our customers, friends and colleagues to assist those impacted by Hurricane Katrina,” said Candace Adams, president of Prudential Connecticut Realty. “We are happy to provide this service and hope that the items we collect will help to ease some of the burden of this tragedy.”

The company has some 20 affiliates in the affected areas, according to Jackie Donahue of Prudential Connecticut, and responded quickly when the hurricane hit.

“We got right on it,” Donahue said.

North Haven-based H. Pearce Real Estate Co. also plans to make a donation, but was still deciding between donating to The United Way or to the Red Cross at press time.

Banks across the state also have been helping. Both Bridgeport-based People’s Bank and Waterbury-based Webster Bank have teamed up with the Red Cross. People’s is taking donations at its 156 branches across the state from now until Sept. 26 for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

“The American Red Cross is uniquely prepared to respond to this type of natural disaster,” said Parry Spahr, senior vice president of Corporate Community Relations at People’s Bank, in a prepared statement. “The American Red Cross maintains a specially trained team of relief workers who can respond quickly to disasters of this magnitude. At times like this, we all want to help, but search for a way to do so. In partnering with the American Red Cross, People’s Bank is making it easy for Connecticut residents to put into action their desire to help.”

The organization thanked the bank in a prepared statement.

“The Red Cross is privileged to be the recipient of so much concern by Americans who want to help, and grateful for the partnership in caring that we have established with People’s Bank,” said Dianne Auger, executive director of its Southeastern Fairfield County chapter. “We are thankful that People’s is helping to give Connecticut residents the chance to translate their compassion and caring into humanitarian aid through their monetary contributions. Gifts to the Red Cross make it possible – with the dedication and service of our volunteers – to assist the victims of Katrina with food, water, shelter, clothing and emotional support.”

Webster last week made a $10,000 corporate contribution to the Red Cross, and is also allowing people to make donations to the organization in its branches. Its employees are conducting other kinds of fund-raisers, including raffles and allowing a week of casual dressing for staffers who make certain contributions, according to Art House, spokesman for Webster.

“New England people understand the dangers of floods and hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina appears to have broken all records,” said James C. Smith, Webster chairman and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. “Webster Bank and our employees want to do our part in helping to alleviate the extensive suffering and homelessness left in the wake of the storm. By accepting contributions at all Webster branches, we seek to make it convenient for those who would like to contribute to the relief efforts.”