From home fires to large scale disasters, organizations help Red Cross respond

The J.M. Smucker Company, Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc., and FirstEnergy Corporation aid through Annual Disaster Giving Program

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

One of the many memorable experiences as an American Red Cross volunteer came soon after first joining. I had spent two days assisting families and first responders during and after a large condominium fire in one of Cleveland’s western suburbs. While packing up as evening fell, I received a call. A large apartment building in an eastern suburb was now burning. I stopped by the Red Cross’ Cleveland office, resupplied a response vehicle, and headed off to meet the volunteers and staff already on the scene.

It was comforting to know that, even with the high number of people needing aid, we were able to provide it. No one impacted would have to wait for financial assistance, for a place to stay, for food and water. Such immediacy is critical in a disaster, as the Red Cross has emphasized that #HelpCantWait.

Our ability to quickly respond is due to generous donations, whether from individuals or large organizations like those taking part in the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). Such support is critical, as locally and nationally, disasters are increasing.

This national Red Cross news release celebrates the 130+ corporate and organizational members of the ADGP. Three of them, The J.M. Smucker Company, Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc., and FirstEnergy Corporation assist the Northern Ohio region.

As The J.M. Smucker Company reports, it became a Red Cross Disaster Responder in 2017 and went on to become an ADGP supporter in 2019. It currently contributes at the $500,000 level. Community involvement is important to the company, including Disaster Relief. It states, “Major tragedies are a heartbreaking reality, and it is critical our communities have the resources to recover and rebuild. Through our partnerships, including with the Red Cross, United Way and Habitat for Humanity, we have helped support these efforts with product and financial donations. Our employees have also stepped up, volunteering time and effort to help their neighbors in need.”

As I reported in 2020, Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc., became an ADGP supporter and currently contributes at the $250,000 level. As the organization writes on its community investment page, “We provide funding, equipment and support to first responders, government agencies and community- based organizations to increase the overall safety of the communities where we operate. Preference is given to projects and organizations that help communities better prepare for, mitigate the risks of and respond to disasters, hazards and emergencies.”

FirstEnergy is also an ADGP supporter at the $250,000 level. Through the FirstEnergy Foundation’s Investing with Purpose initiative, the organization has given more than $3.43 million to support “nonprofit organizations that advance health and safety, workforce development, educational and social justice initiatives.”

Preparation and education are also vital parts of the ADGP program, and September is National Preparedness Month.

Thanks to ADGP members and other donors, the Red Cross has the resources, personnel and training to respond, whether to the three-per-day home fires we average in Northern Ohio, or a large-scale disaster. Our Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole explained, “Without the generosity of our donors we would not be able to assist the nearly 1,800 families we have in the past year. These resources are critical to many families being able to begin their pathway to recovery after these life-altering events.”

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer