The American Red Cross
Britton Riley (Guest blogger) @ Kids Matter
The American Red Cross was founded on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton and a circle of acquaintances, in Washington, D.C. Barton led the American Red Cross for 23 years, during which time the first disaster relief efforts were conducted and aid was provided to the United States Military during the Spanish-American War.
Over the years, the Red Cross has grown to be one of the nation’s premier humanitarian organizations. The Red Cross responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters each year, through the mobilizing power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
While many people see the American Red Cross as simply collecting blood supplies and responding to large national disasters, there are also Red Cross activities and responses happening daily, right in your own community. On a daily basis the Red Cross not only responds to large-scale disasters, but also to individual home fires. On the scene, we provide support to First Responders and work directly with clients to ensure their immediate needs for food, clothing, and shelter are met. We provide our clients with a comfort kit of basic toiletry items and also bring stuffed animals in case there are children involved. Stuffed animals provide the comfort a child needs to believe everything is going to be okay. We want the children to feel safe. Beyond our time on scene, we also work with clients in the weeks and months following the disaster to make sure their needs are met and they are on the path to recovery.
The American Red Cross also provides emergency communications to the Armed Forces. When a member of the military, or their family, has an emergency and needs to contact a loved one overseas, they call our 24/7 Emergency Communications Center (877-272-7337). There, a Red Cross representative collects all pertinent information and validates the request to be passed along to the member in the Armed Forces, or their commanding officer.
Volunteers and Donors are the cornerstone of the Red Cross, our response, and the services we provide. The mission of the American Red Cross is to “… alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and generosity of donors”. That’s what we continue to do daily. The Red Cross is a volunteer led organization and receives little federal funding.
YOU can help! Contact your local American Red Cross to find out about volunteer opportunities. Visit RedCross.org to learn more about ways you can donate, give blood, or take one of our numerous lifesaving courses.Britton M. Riley, Regional Lead Specialist, Disaster Services, American Red Cross Evansville, IN