All Posts Tagged: times

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Clara Barton and the American Red Cross

Many, many years ago, a clerk in the US Patent Office by the name of Clara Barton spent her time caring for the wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. She was also a key player in locating thousands of soldiers who were classified as “missing,” and became known to all as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her selfless and never-ending work. Once the war ended Ms. Barton had the opportunity to visit Europe and learned about a movement called the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention, a program that treated many of the wounded soldiers. It was expanded later on to include civilian war veterans and also prisoners of war.

Upon her return to America, Barton began to lobby the US government in hopes of ratifying the Geneva convention. She accomplished this goal in 1882. Before that, in 1881, Barton had founded the American Red Cross and was the leader until she retired at the age 83. Under her leadership the American Red Cross was significantly involved in disaster relief, responding to many areas that needed assistance, particularly flood, tornado, forest fire, and hurricane stricken areas. An epidemic of yellow fever was another of the causes that the Red Cross responded to. When she retired, the American Red Cross had only a few thousand widespread members, but grew exponentially over the next few years.

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U.S. Government Alliance

By forming a relationship and alliance with the US government, and by informing potential volunteers that it was considered their “patriotic duty,” membership continued to grow rapidly.  Once World War I ended the membership had swelled to well over 32 million, 11 million of those members being comprised of children and young adults. Joining the Red Cross was considered so important to the war effort that a public official in Wisconsin was tried and convicted under the Espionage Act because he considered the members to be “nothing but a bunch of grafters,” among other things. Apparently, not everyone was enamored of the newly formed American Red Cross.

In present times, offering assistance to wartime service and disaster relief remain the prime focus of the organization. The mission of the Red Cross is to educate every man, woman, and child about health and safety procedures, and to offer support for families who have military members. Blood donation is also a top priority for the Red Cross, and they hold Blood Drives in most communities a few times each year. Volunteers are urged to donate their blood and to recruit as many donors as possible so supplies never run out. Blood is one of the most important components in any disaster relief effort, and the Red Cross is determined to have the supplies remain as high as possible at any given time.

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Volunteering for the Red Cross

Working or volunteering for the Red Cross is not without its drawbacks, and at times the Red Cross has been the target of criminal acts. Several masked men shot and killed six Red Cross aides in 1996 when they were assisting in a Chechen hospital compound. Attacks of a similar nature occurred again in the 90’s and early in 2000 in Bosnia, Somalia, Burundi, and Somalia even though international law makes it illegal to target humanitarian workers. Unfortunately, the condition of this world make it an almost impossibility to guarantee the safety of the Red Cross workers in hostile countries. You can be assured, however, that people will still line up to become members and volunteers in the American Red Cross. It is an organization that continues to reach out to disaster-stricken areas, offering support and resources whenever needed.

I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does?

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Red Cross-the Humanitarian Cause

Volunteering for an organization like the Red Cross is something you should be proud of! Not only are you doing your part to help out, but also because you are lending a hand to people who have faced tragedy and devastation in their lives. Even if you are not able to travel to the area to assist, there are several other ways you can volunteer and make a difference. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can help from afar.

Donate Blood

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Often, supplies of blood run low in areas where something tragic has occurred. When you donate the people who are injured have a chance to heal and get back on their feet. Many times, surgeries require an enormous amount of blood to be given, and this is where you come in. Local communities and the Red Cross host blood drives a few times a year, so don’t let fear stand in your way-it doesn’t hurt, and only takes a little of your time to add to the much needed blood supply.

Take Classes

The Red Cross offers classes that anyone can take that will teach life-saving techniques for many situations. CPR is something that everyone should know, so if you don’t, sign up now to learn how! Knowing CPR could help save a life. Disaster preparedness classes teach you everything you need to know to keep your family safe if a natural disaster should occur where you live. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires are just a few of the things everyone should be ready for, because you never know how or when disaster will strike.

Get Involved in Your Community

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Locate the community chapter of the Red Cross in your town, and offer to teach classes, talk to the public, or simply host a class taught by a professional. You may be an expert in lifesaving techniques and can instruct others in areas of swimming, babysitting, and more. Your knowledge is a valuable asset that can be put to good use, and your community will appreciate it.

Use Social Media

Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google to spread the word about the Red Cross efforts. Start your own blog or record a video that you can publish on YouTube regarding the Red Cross events across the country. You are going to reach hundreds of thousands of people this way, and you may be surprised at the number of concerned citizens who step up to volunteer their services.

Host a Fundraiser

There are numerous fund raising projects that can help raise money for your local Red Cross chapter. Teens can have a car wash and donate the proceeds, or you can have a “silent auction” to raise money for the cause. Ask your friends and neighbors if they would be willing to donate items that can be auctioned. Businesses are also very willing to donate new items to your event. All you have to do is ask. Bake sales, book sales, and just about anything you can imagine can raise public awareness and money that will be donated back to the Red Cross.

As you can see, there are so many ways you can raise funds to assist this organization in their continuing efforts to help people in need.  The Red Cross depends on the volunteers to make a difference. Incidentally, did you know that the workforce of the Red Cross is 90% volunteers? Join the others who are helping to make a difference in the lives of those who have been hard hit by tragedy. Sometimes just lending a helping hand makes all the difference in the world.

I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does?

Read More
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Red Cross Emergency Response Teams

Have you ever wanted to do something good for your community but just didn’t know what or where to begin? How about getting the training you need to become a member of the Red Cross emergency response team? Believe me when I say you won’t be the first to do so. Doctors, nurses, technicians, and many more professional people already belong, but many, many more people are needed-not just professionals! Regular, everyday citizens just like you and me. Our services are needed in every community, be it a small town, large city, or something in between.

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Once you become a member of the Red Cross Emergency Response Unit you will learn the seven principles that are fundamental to the Red Cross movement worldwide:

  • Humanity

  • Neutrality

  • Unity

  • Voluntary

  • Independence

  • Impartiality

  • Universality

You will need to contact the Red Cross chapter to find out what you need to do to become a member of this elite team, and what classes and training you are going to need. It won’t be an easy task, but once you are done and go out on that first call it will be the most fulfilling moment of your life. You will be helping to save lives, and what better “job” is there? Yes, this is a volunteer opportunity, and you will have to commit time and effort, but it is such a worthwhile cause.

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You and your fellow team members will come together as one unit to offer assistance and aid to people who have fallen victim to natural disasters, conflict of war, and general total devastation of the area they live in. Remember Hurricane Katrina? It was through the efforts of the Red Cross volunteers that these people received the medical care, food, shelter and clothing they so desperately needed at this terrible time. Without these volunteers, total chaos would have reigned for so much longer than it actually did.

You may find yourself carrying supplies to and fro, transporting the sick, injured, or the elderly, administering first aid, or maybe even emptying bedpans. No job should be beneath you when you volunteer. You may be assigned the task of getting people to shelters, or even setting up temporary ones. Maybe you will find yourself cleaning up debris, clearing away rubble, or helping people try to locate other family members, friends, or even their pets. No matter what task you perform, it is valued beyond belief!

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Volunteering is a Life Sacrifice

Volunteers who are part of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) must be willing to sacrifice a large part of their lives if they are called to a disaster area. They are never sure when they will be able to go home or speak to their families simply because they are desperately needed at the scene of the tragedy. This is what you are agreeing to once you sign up. If you can’t commit the time and effort to devote to this unit, then offer your services in another area of the Red Cross. They are always looking for volunteers for so many different projects they have going. The point is-do something! Any little thing you do means a lot more than you may think.

People rely on the helping hands of the Red Cross volunteers in times of need, and this organization never disappoints. Always there to help people try to get back on their feet, put their lives back together, offering kindness and understanding as well as medical care, food, shelter and essentials. These people genuinely care, and by volunteering in any aspect, you show that you care, too.

I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does?

Read More
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The Red Cross, Social Media, and Helping Those in Need

The internet makes it possible to share information all over the world. People from anywhere are able to communicate, share pictures and stories, and in general form a type of “community” all their own. So, are you wondering where this is leading? Of course you are!

Social Media

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Social media is a great way to get the word out anytime something happens, either good or bad, and the directors of the Red Cross know this, in particular, the Social Media Director. This is where the Red Cross hears what people are saying about the organization, and they take all the information quite seriously and look for ways to improve the group and its efforts. If any information is incorrect or simply not true, social media is used as a way to get the truth out there to everyone. Most people are not willing to accept a simple answer because what they are looking for is change.

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The Red Cross didn’t used to be much of a social media user, but in light of events that affected the whole world, the organization realized this was the perfect forum to affect changing times when needed, but it wasn’t until the horrendous and devastating earthquake in Haiti that not only changed the life of these people, but the Red Cross as well. By sponsoring fundraisers and getting the word out on television, radio, and the internet, millions of dollars were raised for the Haiti relief effort. By using social media to inform the public, the Red Cross managed to raise $284 million dollars in donations in just a little over one month.

$80 million of those dollars were sent to Haiti to meet the overwhelming needs of the people living there, and a whopping $20 million dollars was raised because the Red Cross implemented the text message donation page-where people worldwide were asked to text the words “Haiti” from their cell phones. A $10 pledge was all it took to raise all those millions, so imagine how many people donated! The text program still exists today, has the backing of the US State Department, and people can still donate if they wish. Now, that is just one way to put your cell phone to good use, isn’t it?

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Website for Hurricane Effort in Haiti

A separate website was also established, as well as a blog in conjunction with the hurricane effort in Haiti. People who have lost, or are looking for loved ones, can use the blog to communicate with other family members. Flickr brought photos to the public eye, and currently have generated over 1 million views. Facebook and Twitter were able to keep people updated in real time as to the situation in Haiti, publish updates, and other information pertinent to the disaster, proving that social media is a valuable tool, and not just something to play around on. I find it a great source and a wealth of information for anything that is happening in the news today. Yes, some of the information posted may be biased or even incorrect, but compared to years ago when all we had to rely on for incoming news was the radio, newspaper, or television, social media gets the word out faster and spreads further than you can imagine.

Thankfully, the Red Cross of America realized that they were not utilizing everything that was available to them for spreading the word, and made the decision to use social media to call for donations and assistance. Who is to say what would have happened in Haiti if this media was not in place? Surely help would have come, but undoubtedly it would have taken much more time.

I’m sure every man, woman, and undoubtedly some children have heard of the Red Cross in America, but I wonder if everyone actually knows what that Red Cross symbolizes, or what the organization does?

Read More