Thursday, November 10, 2011

Send a message of thanks to those who serve

Many people will have a day off from work or school tomorrow, and it's important that we don't forget the reason we're able to enjoy Veterans Day with our families.  Here at the Red Cross, we're proud of our long history of Services to Armed Forces, a relationship that continues to this day.

Clara Barton, who served as a nurse during the Civil War, founded the American Red Cross following a visit to Europe.  Our organization's congressional charter, issued in 1905 and still in effect today, states in part that our mission is to provide relief to and serve as a medium of communication between members of the armed forces and their families.  During World War I, the Red Cross staffed hospitals and ambulance companies and recruited nearly 20,000 registered nurses to serve the military.  During WWII, that number jumped to over 104,000.  Today, the Red Cross helps facilitate emergency communications to deployed service members on behalf of their families, briefs departing service members and their families regarding available support services, and provides needed comfort and care in military and veterans hospitals.

Holiday Mail for Heroes launch event on Capitol Hill
 On this Veterans Day, many of you may be looking for a way to say thank you to those who are serving or have served this nation.  One way to do so would be to take a little time on your day off to send a greeting from home through our Holiday Mail for Heroes program.  The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes will screen the cards for hazardous materials, sort and package the cards, and deliver them to military bases and hospitals, veteran's hospitals and other locations during the holidays to show our appreciation for their service.

Monday, November 7, 2011

More than just food, clothing and shelter

American Red Cross disaster relief typically includes providing food and water, clothing and/or shelter to those affected.  Sometimes, however, it takes a little bit more to meet people's immediate emergency needs.

After an October snowstorm left thousands without power for more than a week in Connecticut, the gas-powered generators some residents are using to fix that problem are causing another one: carbon monoxide poisoning.  State health officials reported 50 cases of CO posioning in a single day!

The Red Cross urges all residents to use generators safely, and one of those safety recommendations is to install a carbon monoxide detector.  But after a week without power, a trip to the store to buy a CO detector may not be tops on your list of priorities.  So volunteer Steven Schwartz of Buffalo has been handing them out along with the meals while working out of an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) at shelters in Connecticut.  Steven deployed to to assist in the Northeast relief efforts last week, and as always we are very proud of the work our volunteers do to help our neighbors in need across the country.
L-R: Volunteers Jim Schillinger from the Virginia Captiol Region and Steven Schwartz of Buffalo working the ERV in Connecticut
Speaking of carbon monoxide detectors, did you remember to change the batteries in those and your smoke alarms when turning back the clocks over the weekend?  If not, consider this your friendly reminder!