Pretty much everyone has heard of the American Red Cross. Their symbol – a red cross on a white background – is one of the most widely recognized in the world.
The Red Cross was established 140 years ago. Yet it is the world’s largest volunteer network today. Some 13 million volunteers serve in 187 countries.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters.
They also supply more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood. And teach skills that save lives. They also provide international humanitarian aid. And support military members and their families.
The Red Cross Vision
Through a network of volunteers, donors and partners, the Red Cross aims to turn compassion into action.
The number one goal of the organization is that all people affected by disaster receive care, shelter and hope.
They want to see all communities reach the point where they are prepared for disasters. And where everyone has access to safe, lifesaving blood and blood products.
They also wish to have all members of the U.S. armed forces and their families find the support they need. And they want trained individuals to be available and ready to use their Red Cross skills to save lives.
What the Red Cross Does
As a not-for-profit organization, the Red Cross depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform their mission. An average of 90 cents of every dollar they spend is invested in humanitarian services and programs.
Here’s what the American Red Cross does on an annual basis:
- Responds to an average of 70,000 disasters across the country, providing hope and comfort to people in need.
- Trains and provides information to nearly 5.9 million people in first-aid, water safety and other skills that help save lives.
- Collects nearly 13.6 million units of blood from more than 6.8 million volunteer donors. This meets the needs of patients at hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
- Provides nearly 471,000 support services to military members, veterans and their families, helping about 150,000 people annually.
- Helps more than 181 million people outside the U.S. through disaster management and disease prevention efforts.
Biden Declares ‘Red Cross Month’
What you may not know is that March is “Red Cross Month.”
Now, this is not just something the charitable organization has made up to draw attention to itself. Early this month, President Joe Biden proclaimed March to be “Red Cross Month” across the country.
This tradition began in 1943 with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration. His simple statement was this. “I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.”
Every president since FDR has done this. Despite the fact that the Red Cross is not a government agency.
What We Can Do
Here’s what the Red Cross recommends for people who want to get involved this month.
Donate blood or platelets. Volunteer to help people impacted by a disaster. Take a first-aid or CPR class to help in an emergency. Provide comfort to a member of the military, a veteran or their family.
While all of March is “Red Cross Month,” the organization has designated Wednesday, March 24 as “Giving Day.”
It’s a 24-hour fundraising campaign supporting the work of the American Red Cross. The funds go toward helping people across the country in need of emergency assistance.
Donations help provide hope and urgent relief. Such as food, blankets and other essentials for people who need them most.
Red Cross Preparedness Recommendations
And speaking of supplies, here are a few the Red Cross recommends keeping on hand for preparedness.
- Water for drinking, cleaning and bathing
- Nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- First-aid kit
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Personal protective equipment
- Copies of personal documents
- Family and emergency contact information
- Emergency blanket
- Cellphone and chargers
- Maps of the area.
Donate Blood, Time or Funds
Every eight minutes, the American Red Cross brings help and hope to people in need. Thanks to heroes like you.
Whether it’s a donation of funds or blood, or volunteering time, the Red Cross depends on us for our support as we make a difference in our communities.
Helping less fortunate people should be a year-round activity for us. But it doesn’t hurt to have one month when we really focus on it.
I’d encourage all of us to get out there and do something to help others before March ends.
A Simple Way to Prepare
Now, you could put together your own nonperishable food supply. But would that food still be good between now and 25 years when you might need it?
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