WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) thanked U.S. school children and others Friday who have opened their wallets to help survivors of the school siege in the Russian city of Beslan (search) that killed nearly 340 people, many of them students.
"The barbaric terrorist attack on a Russian school three weeks ago sickened the world," Bush said as he prepared to depart from the South Lawn of the White House for a campaign swing to Wisconsin. "America grieves with the people of Russia and we pray for the innocent victims and their families in Beslan."
"In America we've witnessed an outpouring of compassion for the Russian people," Bush said, standing next to children from Washington-area schools who have organized toy, school supply and fund-raising drives for Beslan children.
Bush was also joined by Yuri V. Ushakov (search), the Russian ambassador to the United States, and children who attend the Russian Embassy school; and Marty Evans, the president of the American Red Cross, which has been collecting donations for the Beslan community.
"I thank all Americans who have contributed to this important cause. I hope many more will donate in the days ahead," Bush said.
The president said he was watching the situation in Florida, which has been ravaged by hurricanes and may be facing another storm this weekend. Florida is the state that decided the 2000 election, and Bush has toured hurricane damage there three times in recent weeks.
"Another storm is headed in that direction. It will be another test of will and compassion," Bush said.