By: Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed March “Red Cross Month” in 1943, he called on Americans to join a movement that was providing vital services to the nation’s war effort.
“I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross,” FDR declared.
During World War II alone, the American Red Cross recruited more than 104,000 nurses for the armed forces and sent more than 300,000 tons of supplies overseas. It launched a national blood donation program to support U.S. armed forces; by the end of the war, it had collected more than 13 million pints of lifesaving blood!
FDR knew the Red Cross could muster Americans for a heroic cause.
That’s still true today, because #HelpCantWait.
As COVID-19 continues to upend our lives, families across the country rely on the Red Cross for lifesaving blood, comfort and care after disasters, support for the military and veterans, and lifesaving training and preparedness skills.
With nearly 140 years of experience under its belt, the Red Cross knows how to pivot to meet unprecedented challenges – and this past year has been no exception.
New guidelines are in place to ensure the safety of Red Crossers – 90% of them volunteers – as well as those receiving services. And Americans have stepped up, just as they did in FDR’s time: Last year, more than 70,000 people across the country became new Red Cross volunteers, including more than 550 in Northern Ohio.
And we still need more folks to join us.
“We have plenty of opportunities for blood donor ambassadors to greet donors, take their temperatures and brief them on how to donate safely,” said Gail Wernick, who heads up volunteer services for the Red Cross in northern Ohio.
“And we need more blood transportation specialists to drive blood products from collection sites to our processing labs or to hospitals where patients need them.”
Unfortunately, there’s never a break from home fires and other local disasters, so the Red Cross is always looking to train more Disaster Action Team members to provide comfort and care to those in distress. Now, that’s being done virtually so volunteers can “respond” from the safety of their own homes.
Hero Care caseworker volunteers also help from home, fielding calls from military and veterans’ families for Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces aid.
March is the ideal time to step up and “do your bit” as we all battle through this coronavirus siege. If you’re healthy, there’s no better feeling than giving the gift of life with a blood donation. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 are especially needed for their convalescent plasma, which is being used to treat acute COVID cases.
If you can’t give time or blood, you can support Red Cross disaster relief activities financially on Giving Day, March 24. Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a home fire or other disaster. A gift of $95, for example, will feed a family of three for a day and provide blankets and other essentials when they need them most.
To learn more about volunteering here in northern Ohio, reach out to Melanie Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-204-6615. To schedule a blood donation, check out redcross.org/blood or download the free Red Cross blood app from your app store. And to make a financial gift, go to redcross.org/donate or call 1-800-REDCROSS.