Heroes honored for ‘Acts of Courage’ in Akron

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

March 6, 2020- I’ve had the privilege of serving on the board for  the Summit, Portage and Medina County Red Cross for nine years. As part of that, I’ve been honored to emcee the annual Acts of Courage and H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award event with my co-host and husband, radio personality Tim Daugherty.

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Sue Wilson and Tim Daugherty

Acts of Courage honors individuals who have shown extraordinary courage, compassion, character, and humanity. These stories never cease to have a profound effect on me and every single person in the room.

The 24th annual Acts of Courage honored the following individuals:

Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks

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Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks with Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy

As smoke billowed from a second-floor apartment building, early in the morning of June 12, 2019, Medina police officers Matt Martincin and Chris Deeks arrived to see two women trapped in an apartment. Despite having a smoke alarm in the apartment, there were no batteries in the alarm.

After attempts to have the women jump failed, Matt and Chris found a ladder on the back of a contractor’s vehicle and used the ladder to rescue the two women and all seven of their pets.

Here is Chris and Matt’s story:

Gregg Whiteman

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Gregg Whiteman with Rachel Telegdy

What began as an ordinary day at GOJO headquarters in Akron, quickly turned to anything but ordinary.

While in a meeting, Gregg Whiteman received a call from a colleague. Realizing how unusual it was to receive a call from someone who knew he was in a meeting, Gregg answered his phone. He quickly realized that something was wrong and that the co-worker needed his assistance.

Remaining on the phone, Gregg was able to gather the proper information to realize exactly where his colleague was, despite his inability to speak coherently.

Thanks to his persistence, Gregg was not only able to find his co-worker lying on the floor of an office, behind a closed door, but his quick response and immediate call to 911 ensured that the co-worker in need was able to be taken to the hospital, where he was given medication to prevent permanent damage from the stroke he was suffering.

Here is Gregg’s story:

Brian Linder

At the end of a workday in downtown Akron, Brian Linder was walking across the skywalk to the garage to go home. As he was hurrying along to avoid the frigid February cold, Brian spotted an individual unconscious and not breathing.

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Rachel Telegdy with Brian Linder

Having just completed a CPR refresher course a few months prior, Brian began to administer CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene.

Here is Brian’s Story:

Jacob Thompson

On February 24, 2019, there was a high wind advisory for drivers. That day, Jacob Thompson was returning to the Kent State University campus following United States Coast Guard drill training in Port Clinton, Ohio.

As he was driving, the high wind took hold of a trailer and threw a semi-truck that was driving in front of Jacob into the center guardrail.

Jacob immediately pulled his vehicle to the side of the road. Upon approaching the vehicle, he was able to see the driver alive, but confused and unable to get out. Jacob then began to remove the top and debris from the truck in order to access the cab so he could pull the driver to safety from the overturned vehicle.

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Jacob is currently deployed on active duty and was unable to attend the event. However, prior to deploying, Jacob was able to receive his award and taped an acceptance video, which was shown during the evening’s activities.

Paul Diven

In October, Stan Hywet maintenance worker Paul Diven saw a crowd gathering during the annual Ohio Mart arts fair. When he made his way to the commotion, he noticed volunteer Bruce DeBarr, who requires oxygen, not breathing.

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Rachel Telegdy with Paul Diven

Understanding time was of the essence, Paul began to troubleshoot to find the issue with Bruce’s oxygen tank. Once Paul spotted that a part was installed incorrectly, he properly installed the part and began to hear the oxygen flowing, helping Bruce regain consciousness. Once Bruce made a full recovery, Paul returned to work at Ohio Mart.

Doug Price, Marcus Council and Barb Fisher

On May 9, 2019, the Akron Fire Department responded to a home fire, with reports of a child trapped in a basement.

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Marcus Council and Doug Price with Rachel Telegdy

With the home engulfed in flames and the basement full of smoke, Akron firefighters Lt. Doug Price and Marcus Council entered the home in search of the young girl. Despite low visibility, Doug was able to find the child unconscious and lying on the ground and covered. Doug and Marcus removed the child from the burning home. She was transported to the hospital, where she was able to regain consciousness and make a full recovery.

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Barb Fisher with Rachel Telegdy

It was later determined that the child remembered the fire safety instructions she was taught a week earlier by her teacher Barb Fisher, ultimately helping to save her life.

Here is Doug, Marcus and Barb’s story:

Jason Strunk, Leslie Snyder and Seth Bond

While waiting at a red light on his way to helping an elderly family friend grocery shop in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood, Jason Strunk heard gunfire ring out in the street. That is when Jason saw a mother being shot by her boyfriend, while trying to protect her three children, including an infant.

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Jason Strunk with Rachel Teledgy

Without hesitation, Jason jumped out of his car and began to wrestle with the armed individual. At this time, Leslie Snyder and Seth Bond arrived and witnessed what was happening. Seth began to assist Jason in trying to apprehend the shooter, while Leslie attended to the injured mother and her children.

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Seth Bond and Leslie Snyder with Rachel Telegdy

During the exchange, the shooter’s gun jammed. As the shooter returned to his vehicle to find and return with a knife, Jason grabbed the two older children and placed them in his car, while Leslie placed the mother and baby in her car, while applying pressure to the mother’s wounds. Jason and Leslie were able to drive the family to safety until first responders and paramedics arrived.

Here is Jason, Leslie and Seth’s story:

Each of these  stories share one common theme: that the people involved don’t consider themselves “heroes.” And THEY are the ones who are grateful for being able to help someone.  Wow.

Another highlight of this event is  the H. Peter Burg Community Leadership Award, presented to those who best exemplify Pete Burg’s leadership qualities, his compassion for people and his dedication to the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. This year’s award recipient is Steve Hendricks.

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Steve Hendricks receiving the award from Rachel Telegdy and H. Peter Burg’s daughter Amy Burg Cole

Steve is market president of the Northeast Ohio region for S&T Bank. He served on the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties board of directors for 9 years and held many leadership positions including board president. After terming off the board, he remains active with the chapter, serving on multiple committees and engaging his team at S&T Bank in Sound the Alarm events throughout the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties. In addition to his Red Cross work, Hendricks serves on multiple boards throughout the area, including the Akron Area YMCA board of trustees. He is also a graduate of Leadership Akron, Class 25

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Akron Area YMCA performing “What a Wonderful World”

Among the tributes honoring Steve, children from the Akron Area YMCA youth program surprised Steve with a performance where they used American Sign Language to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

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The festivities came to an end with a visit by the Akron Fire Department’s fire pup mascot and Northeast Ohio Region Program Disaster Program Officer Tim O’Toole sharing with all those in attendance the importance of smoke alarms and home fire escape plans.

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Tim O’Toole

You too can be a local hero. If you are interested in taking a Red Cross training, such as CPR, life guarding and babysitting, please visit redcross.org/take-a-class to see upcoming classes and to register.

You can also be a hero to someone in need by donating life saving blood. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to find a blood drive near you and to schedule an appointment to give now.

To view more photos from the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Acts of Courage event, visit the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s Flickr page.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: February 21-23, 2020

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

February 24, 2020- Despite the sunny and warm weather this weekend, local disasters did not take a break.

During this past weekend, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio assisted 22 individuals and provided more than $4,500 in immediate financial assistance, as well as providing snacks and beverages for first responders.

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One of the incidents that the Red Cross responded to was a massive fire which occurred Sunday night on Hilliard Boulevard in Rocky River.  The fire, which destroyed residental complex which was under construction,  forced some nearby residents to flee their homes because of their proximity to the fire.

Three residents received immediate financial assistance to help them find shelter Sunday night, when they indicated they had no other place to stay.  Red Cross workers plan to continue contacting affected residents to assess their needs and provide appropriate assistance.

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Five volunteers responded to the fire to distribute blankets, water and snacks to the residents who were unable to return to their homes, and to the firefighters from various communities who responded to the fire.

“We could not help people in need without our volunteers,” said Ben Bellucci, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland.  “They are vital to our mission, providing comfort and care when people like the folks in Rocky River need emergency assistance.”

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Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy; the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

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To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

 

Home fire experience prompts East Liverpool resident to become Red Cross volunteer

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

February 20, 2020- Imagine coming home after a day of work or shopping for the upcoming holiday season, only to find that your home is on fire. That was the case for one East Liverpool family, following a fire believed to have been caused by the wood burner.

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As he was driving home from work in Canfield on the evening of Dec. 15, 2017, John Pomeroy noticed he received an unusually high number of text messages and missed calls. Being unable to read the messages as he was driving, he decided to return the calls. That is when he heard the unthinkable.

Before John could ask, his daughter Jocelyn picked up the phone and immediately said, “Dad, the house is on fire. This is not a joke.”

After shopping for gifts with her mother, Jocelyn was the first person to discover the fire. As soon as she opened the front door, all she could see was the home filled with smoke. Confusion and fear set in.

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John and Jocelyn Pomeroy

Once John arrived on the scene, he immediately checked on his family to make sure everyone was safe. Then the gravity of the situation began to sink in and he pondered what to do next, as firefighters extinguished the fire.

Prior to the home fire, John and Jocelyn only thought the American Red Cross assisted with large scale disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. John remembers being amazed by how quickly the Red Cross arrived on the scene and the compassion the Disaster Action Team members showed his family.

One memory Jocelyn has of that evening was being wrapped in a Red Cross blanket, an item she still owns today, and the comfort she received from its warmth and softness.

“It is really helpful to have someone there to help you, give you a blanket and tell you everything will be okay,” said Jocelyn.

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John and Jocelyn with Kristen Gallagher and Karen Conklin

Even though John personally knew Lake to River Chapter Executive Director Karen Conklin and Kristen Gallagher, disaster program specialist, through Ohio high school wrestling, he was comforted by the Red Cross’ commitment to helping his family get back on their feet.

“We are grateful for the Red Cross and all of their hard work to help others in need,” stated John.

While John and his family were fortunate to be able to return to their home following the fire, he never forgot what the Red Cross did for them. John was so inspired by his experience that he signed up to become a Red Cross volunteer during a volunteer information session in East Liverpool.

“Despite so much going through my mind, the Red Cross was there every step of the way,” said John. “As a volunteer, I hope to provide others in need the same comfort and support that we received. I want to help others know everything will be okay.”

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John signing up to become a Red Cross volunteer

Although Jocelyn has to wait until she turns 13, she also is eager to become a Red Cross volunteer. Until then, she is looking forward to the opportunity to apply to be a Summer Youth Corps member this year.

The Red Cross will host informational sessions across Northeast Ohio to help you learn about the many ways you can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer. Youll hear from current volunteers and have an opportunity to ask questions. Volunteer applications will also be available.

Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga County Volunteer Information Sessions

Saturday, Feb. 29

10-11 a.m.

Red Cross Regional Headquarters

3747 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH

Summit, Portage and Media County Volunteer Information Sessions

Saturday, March 1

10-11 a.m.

Red Cross Akron Office

501 W. Market St., Akron, OH

Can’t make it to a volunteer session, but interested in volunteering? Click here to visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to submit a volunteer application.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Red Cross celebrates Black History Month

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of the Northeast Ohio

February 6, 2020- February is Black History Month and the American Red Cross is celebrating by paying tribute to the men and women who played a pivotal role in shaping the organization.

Here are some of the humanitarians who helped shape the Red Cross:

Steve Bullock – Serving Where the Need is Greatest

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Steve Bullock began his career with the Red Cross in 1962, working as a caseworker. His work took him and his family to military posts throughout the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Twenty years later, he became the Chief Executive Officer and Chapter Manager of the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

Bullock culminated his career at the American Red Cross in 1999, when he was named acting president of the national agency in Washington, DC. He took on the role leading the organization after the resignation of Elizabeth Dole, who recommended him for the post. While serving as acting president, he headed a team of staff members and news media who brought 60,000 pounds of relief supplies to Macedonia to aid nearly 140,000 ethnic Albanian refugees driven from their homes in Kosovo.

Read our previous blog article to learn more about Steve Bullock and his impact on the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

Frederick Douglass – An Influential Ally in Founding the American Red Cross

Frederick Douglass

A leading spokesman of African Americans in the 1800s and friend of Clara Barton, Mr. Douglass offered encouragement when Clara Barton sought advice and support in her efforts to gain U.S. acceptance as a member nation of the global Red Cross network. Douglass’ name is on an appeal for funds after the 1882 Mississippi flood. He also, in his capacity as Register of Deeds for the District of Columbia, signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the American Red Cross when they were submitted to the municipal authorities. The articles legally documented the creation of the American Red Cross.

Gwen T. Jackson – A Dedicated Volunteer Leader Across Decades

Gwen Jackson

Gwen T. Jackson began volunteering with her local Red Cross chapter in 1961, and by 1989 she was the first African American to be appointed as the National Chairman of Volunteers for the American Red Cross. During her tenure, she implemented the results of the Volunteer 2000 Study, completed in 1988 to study the downturn in volunteerism and provide a blueprint for future growth.

While serving with the Red Cross, Jackson provided assistance during major disasters such as Hurricane Hugo and support during the Persian Gulf War. She later became a member of the American National Red Cross Board of Governors in 1992 and was re-elected for a second term in 1995. Jackson was presented with the Cynthia Wedel Award, an award given to outstanding Red Cross volunteers, for her 50 years of dedication and volunteer leadership in 2003. She currently holds an appointment as Chair Emeritus of the American Red Cross Milwaukee Chapter.

These leaders represent the Red Cross’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, to help deliver the mission of the Red Cross and to represent the communities we serve. We look forward to seeing the future leaders who will continue the legacy  of these great humanitarians and lead the Red Cross to great achievements.

Akron middle school students present creative ideas for disaster relief

By Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties

January 24, 2020- Two years ago I partnered with the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. This year I was asked to partner with the STEM Middle School sixth grade on a project. They use problem-based learning in their school. The problem they were presented with was: How can we, as concerned citizens, work together to assist the emotional needs of survivors of natural disasters and consider:

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  • The structure of the response needed
  • The geographical location
  • The emotional needs of the young people affected

The class of more than 100 learners identified the American Red Cross as an organization that helps with disaster relief but was not sure how we did that. In mid-December I visited the classroom and talked about what we do during disasters, including sheltering, feeding, how we use GIS and mapping to make decisions, how we work with partners as well as how we deal with the emotional part of disaster relief. Their questions were thoughtful, and they had a lot of them.

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A month later, I was invited back for the presentations. “Impressive” and “amazing” were the words that kept coming out of my mouth. The students were separated into small groups and had been assigned various disaster types — flood, tornado, hurricane, drought, chemical spills, blizzards, etc. The solutions were unique, well thought out and, in some cases, mind blowing. I couldn’t believe sixth graders came up with these things!

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One team, assigned drought, developed a board game. This game was fun as well as educational. Through question and answer cards, it detailed how to conserve water or reasons drought happens.

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A few teams created websites. One for chemical spills addressed how to avoid them, what to do if one affects your home and who can help. They handed out a card with a QR code linking you to their website, and plan on distributing them around Akron so residents can learn more. Another website created a pen pal site for those affected by a disaster so they could connect with someone willing to share their experiences with others. One team created an augmented reality with a 3D cube that when you put your phone or tablet in front of the cube it showed, from all angles, a beach, the fish swimming in the ocean and the sun shining above it. The student said, “Well this is pretty basic.” Far from basic to me!

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This list can go on and on. I wish I had a few more hours to have walked through every display to hear all their ideas and presentations.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

Interested in giving back to your community? Come to a Red Cross Volunteer Session!

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

January 23, 2020- Are you interested in making a difference in your community by assisting individuals in need?

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The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio has a critical need for volunteers to respond to local disasters, to assist at blood drives and to transport lifesaving blood.

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The Red Cross will be holding informational sessions across Northeast Ohio to help you learn about the many ways you can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer. You’ll hear from current volunteers and have an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll also have volunteer applications available at the sessions.

California Wildfires 2019

Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga County Sessions

Saturday, January 25th and Saturday, February 29th

10-11 AM

Red Cross Regional Headquarters

3747 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH

Summit, Portage and Media County Sessions

Saturday, February 1st and Saturday, March 1st

10-11 AM

Red Cross Akron Office

501 W. Market St., Akron, OH

Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Trumbull County Session

Wednesday, February 19th

8:30-10:30 AM

Hoge’s Restaurant

16128 E Liverpool Rd., East Liverpool, OH

To RSVP for one of the information sessions above, contact Gail Wernick at 216-431-3328 or gail.wernick@redcross.org.

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Can’t make it to a volunteer session, but interested in volunteering? Click here to visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to submit a volunteer application.

Volunteers celebrating volunteers

By Kim Kroh, Stark and Muskingum Lakes executive director

December 26, 2019- Stark and Muskingum Lakes volunteer, Barb Thomas, was attending a disaster services department meeting earlier this month and was looking for ways to inspire, uplift, and build camaraderie among the disaster team. ‘Tis the season, and what better way to recognize volunteers than to host a holiday party.  She laughs, saying she may have overextended herself because only 4 disaster volunteers (out of 20) raised a hand indicating an interest in attending a holiday party.

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Nonetheless, Barb got right to work, and her first step was recruiting helpers. Tom and Gwen Johnson eagerly volunteered to assist. Planning was officially underway, and the invitations were distributed. Tom hung all the decorations, and being 6’3”, he was perfect for the job. Gwen used her handy scrapbooking tool to punch out dozens of snowflakes, and Barb made a keepsake ornament for every volunteer.

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Together they transformed the disaster services office into a space with intimate ambiance, colorful lighting, snowflakes, holiday trees, and festive tinsel spiraling down from the rafters. Appetizers, desserts, and punch were on the menu and each volunteer brought a dessert or appetizer to share. The invitation also requested the volunteers to wear an ugly Christmas sweater and holy moly, there were some doozies!

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All in all, more than 30 people attended the party, sharing laughs and creating new memories. Job well done Barb! You were very successful in building camaraderie and reminding our volunteers, being one yourself, just how valuable you are to YOUR American Red Cross!!

Trees, Wreaths, and a Blimp

Annual Festival of Trees event raises money and lifts spirits

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross Regional Communications Officer

Wooster, December 6, 2019 – It’s one of the most timely events of the season. And it’s one of the most popular events in the region. Dozens of designer trees, wreaths, centerpieces and baskets were on display at the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser for disaster relief.  The items were auctioned off on Tuesday, December 3 at the Shisler Conference Center on the Wooster campus of The Ohio State University.  Supporters also bid on valuable gifts donated by local companies and individuals during a live auction.

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One of those gifts is always in high demand: a ride on the Goodyear blimp.  The highest bidder was Annette Saeger, owner of the Gilcrest Center, an adult daycare in Wooster.

“One of her resident’s  dying wish is to ride in the Goodyear blimp,” said Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Red Cross of Lake Erie/Heartland. “She bought that for him.” 

49164545698_7913cd9266_cThe event raised more than $80,000 for the Red Cross to help residents who are affected by disasters like home fires and flooding in Ashland, Holmes, Richland and Wayne counties.

The general public was invited to attend a preview the night before the auction.

They 49164556318_dca86bd6ac_cwere treated not only to the splendor of the decorated trees, but also a performance by the  Wooster High School Choir and a visit from Santa Claus.

“What a great way to kick-off the holiday season,” Kiefer said.  “People had a good time for a good cause – those who need help during their darkest hours, after a disaster like a home fire.”

If you’d like to help people recover from home fires, floods, tornadoes and other disasters, visit redcross.org/neo and click the donate button at the top of the page, or call 800-RED CROSS.

To view dozens of photos from the preview night and the auction at Festival of Trees, visit our photo album here.

Photo credits: Tom Newman/American Red Cross volunteer; Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Chris and Jim Davis named 2019 Festival of Trees honorary co-chairs

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

November 18, 2019- The American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter named Chris and Jim Davis the 2019 honorary co-chairs for the annual Festival of Trees, which will be held on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at the Shisler Conference Center in Wooster.

Jim and Chris Davis

Chris and Jim Davis

The event helps raise funds for the Red Cross to help residents who are affected by disasters like home fires and flooding in Ashland, Holmes, Richland and Wayne counties.

The Davis’ were both born and raised in Orrville, Ohio and attended Orrville High School together. Both have led a life of service, with Chris serving as a teacher and director at the Trinity Christian Pre-School for 28 years and Jim a police officer at the Orrville Police Department. Currently, they own and operate the Orrville Dairy Queen, which Jim’s mother and father purchased in 1984.

“We support the American Red Cross and their mission, which is to prevent and alleviate human suffering,” said Chris Davis. “I think of them as the number one second responder, right after police and fire, our first responders. Your contribution to help stays here for local disaster services and programs.”

The Festival of Trees, one of the area’s premiere holiday events since 1990, has generated funds for local Red Cross disaster relief for families experiencing home fires, floods or tornadoes.

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The fundraising event features beautifully decorated holiday trees, wreaths, centerpieces and baskets donated by local artisans and decorators. The holiday decorations will be auctioned at the event.

Additionally, local companies have donated wonderful and unique items for the auction, such as a ride for two on the Goodyear blimp and a trip to Disney World.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the event, visit redcross.org/trees19.

Akron Brass remains a local champion through Red Cross partnership

By Mike Arthur, Disaster Program Manager, Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter (South)

November 15, 2019- When I have trouble with my work equipment, I call the Red Cross information technology (IT) department and they help me fix the problem. At worst, it means I’m not very productive for a short period of time. In my previous career as a firefighter, if I had trouble with my equipment it could have resulted in injury or death.

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For the last 100 years, the Akron Brass Company has made quality equipment to ensure that firefighters are able to put fires out and save lives. Every firefighter knows about Akron Brass, and how good their products are. I recently had the opportunity to visit their offices and got to meet many of their staff members. Akron Brass is an incredible partner of the American Red Cross. This year alone they have provided funds to support our Home Fire Campaign and are the presenting sponsor of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter Festival of Trees event in Wooster next month. In addition, the company actively participates in hosting blood drives, including the Wooster Battle of the Badges event, which pits the police against the fire department in a friendly competition.

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I was at Akron Brass headquarters on Friday, November 8th, when employees assembled 150 comfort kits for veterans.

The Akron Brass Company is a world leader in fire products, as well as a local champion for Wayne County and the state of Ohio.

To view more photos from the Akron Brass care kit assembly event, visit our Flickr page.