Sound Off: American Red Cross depends on its island neighbors

By T.J. Harmon

Island County Red Cross

Across the United States, March is recognized as American Red Cross Month. The Island County Chapter of the Red Cross wants to thank the Oak Harbor City Council for issuing a proclamation in honor of Red Cross Month, and for the continued support of our Island County citizens.

As one of the nation’s best known humanitarian organizations, the Red Cross has been at the forefront of helping Americans prevent, prepare for and respond to large and small disasters for 127 years. Communities depend on the Red Cross in times of need, and the Red Cross depends on the support of the American people to achieve its mission.

Many people do not realize that the Red Cross receives no money from the government. Local Red Cross Chapters are funded solely by local contributions, and your donations support the health, safety and disaster services we provide to your family, friends and neighbors.

This year the Red Cross is taking time in March to focus on the volunteers and employees who demonstrate such compassion and generosity by supporting the Red Cross in Island County and around the country. As one of more than 730 chapters and blood regions across the country, we rely on these everyday heroes to give their time and talents to help others through CPR, first aid, automated external defibrillator training, lifeguarding, response to local emergencies and national disasters, and/or financial donations.

Our chapter is fortunate to have over 100 dedicated volunteers providing community service at our local office, hospitals, NAS Whidbey, businesses, neighborhoods and schools. In the past year alone, Island County Red Cross has responded to 18 local and four national emergencies, assisted 40 military families needing emergency communications with deployed service members, and trained over 4,200 people in lifesaving skills. Island County Red Cross Disaster Action Team’s 40 volunteers assisted local families devastated by house fires, flooding and wind storms, ensuring that those in need received critical Red Cross help… including emergency food, shelter and clothing, as well as medications and much needed emotional support.

This month our chapter will also be promoting several new programs and classes, including Pet CPR and First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, CPR Saturday, and the Red Cross -- Student Training and Response Teams (STARTs). The Red Cross STARTs program will offer young people 14 to 19 years old the opportunity to complete their school’s community service requirements while learning those valuable leadership and job skills valued on resumes and transcripts.

Our START team activities will include participation in health and safety training, humanitarian activities, fundraising, and community events. For more information, or to volunteer, please contact our Oak Harbor office at 675-2912.

Across this nation and throughout Island County, the Red Cross is an organization people can rely on for help, comfort, assistance and compassion. And even in tough economic times, we know we can rely on you! The Island County Red Cross’ ability to provide service depends on community-involved partner organizations and individuals, and we know you will be there to help to ensure that the American Red Cross is always ready to respond when people need help.

On behalf of the Island County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the board and our volunteers, I thank you for your support in helping us continue our service to those who need us, every day.

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