Thursday, December 23, 2010

Travel advisory

If you’re among the thousands traveling this holiday, we hope that you’re taking steps to be prepared!  Here are some essentials that you should make sure you pack up in your cars this holiday season when traveling, whether to see the in-laws in Portland or the elves up at the North Pole! 
-AAA membership
-Activities for all travelers
-Adults and teens-books, magazines, IPod/MP3 player, DVD player
-Kids-books, IPod, paper and crayons (for coloring, making Cootie Catchers, Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe or the license plate game) and travel versions of games, like my personal favorites, Rush Hour and Bananagrams!
-A full tank of gas (One less thing to worry about if you get stuck in traffic)
-Battery operated radio
-Blankets for all travelers
-Car cell phone chargers
-Car scrapers/brush and shovel
-Coats, scarves, gloves and boots for all travelers
-Empty coffee cans or bottles (with lids!) for makeshift facilities
-Extra clothing for all travelers
-Extra food/snacks for all travelers
-Extra plastic bags
-Extra water for all travelers
-Map and directions
-Something brightly colored and reflective that can be used to call attention to your car if needed
While some of these items may seem a bit excessive to pack, if you find yourself stuck out on the road during a blizzard, accident related traffic jam or a closed road, you will be happy to have taken the extra time to be prepared! As some unlucky individuals recently discovered when stuck on the Thruway for 48 hours here in Buffalo, taking the time to pack up some comforts and essentials can go a long way in maintaining you and your family’s sanity in a rough situation!
You can click here for more winter preparedness tips, visit our store to purchase an emergency kit or check out FEMA's winter driving tips
If you think that your school, company or other organization would benefit from a Be Red Cross Ready presentation that addresses issues such as winter preparedness, please contact Denise Herkey-Jarosch, Regional Coordinator, NYS Citizens Preparedness Program at (716) 878-2231 to set up a presentation

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Check us out!

Have you noticed how beautiful the mansion is looking this holiday season? Thanks to the fabulous work and generosity of the local florists at Bloom, and help from the Chapter's staff, the Chapter is looking festive and just as Mrs. Clement, the wife of the prominent banker that once resided in this mansion, would have wanted.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit us here at 786 Delaware Avenue, you should sign up for a class through our website, drive by in the evening to see it with all the holiday lights on or call to schedule a tour to get a firsthand look at a truly historic Buffalo home.
Fun fact! One holiday season, the Chapter tried to put a Christmas tree in one of the mansion’s front windows that had colored lights on it, something that Mrs. Clement strictly forbid.  For three nights in a row, the tree was found knocked over, regardless of what was placed around the tree to hold it up.  On the fourth night, white lights were put on the tree, and it never fell again!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy winter!

After looking out the window for the past few weeks, it seems like we’ve already had our share of snow… but winter only officially begins today Buffalo!  With yourself, your friends and relatives all doing a lot of traveling and visiting, it’s important to be prepared for a lot of situations.  What if a big snow storm hit and you lost power in your home for 3 days with all of your relatives stuck because of travel ban? Would there be enough non-perishable food and water for all of you? 
Being short on food generally isn’t a huge concern around the holidays.  However, many of my holiday favorites require refrigeration… and although eating 20 servings of my mom’s amazing ├ęclair cake might get me through the first day (and would definitely make it a very enjoyable one!) it wouldn’t be safe to eat that when it isn’t refrigerated for 2-3 days.    That’s why it’s important to sort through your cupboards now!
See how much canned food and other non-perishable items like granola bars, nuts and water you have.  Looking now will allow you to just add the extra items you need to your holiday grocery shopping, let you easily check one more thing of that long holiday check list and allow you to rest a little easier knowing that although that winter warning may be blinking across the bottom of the television screen... you and your guests are ready!
Other things to be sure to have on hand:
  • Activities that don’t require electricity… that means no Wii or holiday movies!
    • Cards- Go Fish, Hearts, I Doubt It, Old Maid, Slapjack, Solitaire, Spoons and my favorite… Euchre!
      •  Don’t know how to play any of those? Click on the links above to get instructions and learn how… BEFORE the electricity goes out!
    • Board games- Apples to Apples, Jenga, Monopoly, Scrabble and Twister… just to name a few of our favorites here at the Chapter!
  • Batteries
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights (NO candles… the prevalence of fires always goes up during power outages due to the increased use)
  • Generator (If you have one make sure that it is outdoors)
  • Hand can opener
  • Know Buffalo’s emergency evacuation routes, as they are the most likely to be cleared
    • Broadway, Clinton Street, Delaware Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Exchange Street, Genesee Street, Main Street, Niagara Street, Seneca Street, South Park Avenue and William Street
  • Shovels and salt
So Buffalo, take the hint from Mother Nature! Get prepared with us here at the Chapter because March 20th (the first day of spring) is a long way away!  For more winter preparedness tips and advice on what to stock up on, visit the Chapter online!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I Volunteer: The Sheltons

Imagine moving to a new city just days before it is struck by one of the biggest natural disasters in our nation’s history.  Travis and Laurie Shelton had been in New Orleans just three weeks when Hurricane Katrina shut the city down in 2005. 

“We went to a baseball game that Friday,” Laurie said.  “Everyone was joking about the next named storm.” 

“The next morning, I went to go get breakfast at McDonalds,” Travis said.  “They were boarding it up, and the Wal-Mart was already closed.  That’s when we decided we better get out of town.”  The newly-married couple packed an overnight bag and drove to Mobile, Alabama, planning to return for work on Monday.  By the time they arrived, the hotels were already full, and gas was sold out.  After finding a similar situation in Montgomery, they decided to continue driving to Georgia to stay with Travis’s family, where they watched the devastation unfold on the news.

“We saw the McDonald’s I was in two days earlier under water, and we just started crying,” Travis said.  When they could finally get back into their house weeks later, the Sheltons found their ceiling collapsed and all of their belongings, even their clothes, moldy and water-logged.  Making things even worse, the Shelton’s had been in their home less than 30 days, so their flood insurance did not cover the damage.

The American Red Cross in Macon, Georgia provided Travis and Laurie with clothing and other basic assistance, while back in New Orleans, the American Red Cross partnered with Tide to offer laundry service, which helped the newlyweds get back on their feet.  “New Orleans was one big volunteer effort,” Laurie said. 

The Sheltons spent four months living with co-workers from Geico in the upper floors of a hotel whose ground floor was gutted out after Katrina.  Work eventually brought the couple to Western New York, and the Shelton’s began volunteering with the Greater Buffalo Chapter’s Disaster Action Team in March of 2010. 

“We’ve always wanted to give something back,” Laurie said.  “We understand what it’s like to lose everything.  Our experience is something clients can identify with.”
“We’ve gone from empathy to sympathy,” Travis added.  “We’ve been in their shoes.”

For more information about volunteering through our Chapter, please contact Mary Walls at 716.878.2140.  To make a donation so that we can continue to help other families like the Sheltons, please visit our website and Holiday Giving Catalog or text GIFT to 90999 to make a $25 donation.