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

Recognizing International Day of Charity

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Nine years ago, the United Nations designated Sept. 5 as International Day of Charity to highlight the role of volunteerism and philanthropy in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering.

The day was chosen to honor the work of renowned missionary Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who became a role model of selfless action on behalf of the poor, sick and homeless.

Does this mission statement sound familiar: “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

Clearly, the Day of Charity and the Red Cross fit together like hand and glove.

Every day, trained Red Cross volunteers step forward to offer care and compassion to those in distress: people bereft by home fires, or displaced by western wildfires, Tennessee flash flooding or Hurricane Henri and Ida’s savage winds and rain. We’ve provided nearly 20,000 overnight stays in COVID-safe accommodations for those impacted by high-profile disasters just this summer.

At the same time, volunteers turn to the Red Cross to donate 40% of the nation’s blood supply for folks undergoing surgery, critical emergency care or life sustaining treatments.

September 1, 2021. Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. The American Red Cross is welcoming evacuees from Afghanistan at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, at the request of the Department of Defense. Red Cross team members are offering hygiene supplies, baby items, and other necessities. Photo by Emily Osment / American Red Cross

Of course the Red Cross is continuing its tradition of care for America’s veterans and their families, many of them stressed by recent events in Afghanistan. And at the request of the U.S Department of Defense, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are helping meet basic human needs of American and Afghan evacuees as they arrive at U.S. military bases for repatriation or screening. (For more information, check out “Afghanistan: How the Red Cross and Red Crescent Are Helping” at redcross.org.)

None of this would be possible without financial support from the American public – individuals, foundations, and businesses and corporations large and small.

People like me. I’m certainly no “deep pockets” donor, but I give what I can to causes I believe in – the Red Cross high among them – because I think they build a better world for the present and for my grandchildren. I think of it as “doing my bit;” hardly Mother Teresa-level sacrifice, but doing what I can to ease burdens.

Michelle Polinko, chief development officer for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross, deals with donors that out-give me many times over.

“We have corporate partners here in northern Ohio that understand the need to be ready at a moment’s notice,” Michelle said.  “When a disaster strikes, we need to deploy resources like trained responders, emergency vehicles, comfort kits, food and water immediately.

“Thanks to our Annual Disaster Giving Program partners, like the J.M. Smucker Company, who provide annual donations allowing us to pre-invest in supplies and readiness, we can take action right away.”

The Smucker company is one of dozens that add their big support to the smaller donations that you and I can give to drive the humanitarian engine.

By the way, Sept. 5 is also Cheese Pizza Day (who knew?) and Be Late for Something Day. So it’s not too late to donate financially at redcross.org/donate. Or volunteer (We really need trained disaster volunteers right now!) at redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Or find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive (You know someone out there is relying on you for blood, right?!) by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or accessing RedCrossBlood.org.  Or text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Google Play to get the free Blood Donor App.