March is American Red Cross Month, a special time to recognize and thank Red Cross volunteers and donors who give of their time, talent and treasure to help members of the community. Florida’s Southern Gulf Chapter has a special reason this year to honor its dedicated group of volunteers who stepped up in their community’s hour of need.
All over the country and around the world, the Red Cross is powered by volunteer heroes who respond to disasters ranging from home fires to natural disasters, delivering help and hope to those affected.
Volunteers comprise 91 percent of the Red Cross workforce. In 2017, Red Cross heroes provided more food, relief items and overnight shelter stays to people in need than in the last four years combined.
During Hurricane Irma, the Southern Gulf Chapter opened six evacuation centers in the counties it serves: Collier, Lee, Hendry and Glades. Red Cross volunteers worked with local disaster partners to shelter people who were forced from their homes; provide evacuees with snacks, relief supplies and basic health services; and give comfort to individuals and families coping with heartbreaking losses and an uncertain future.
Over the seven weeks that followed Hurricane Irma, the Red Cross provided over 37,000 shelter night stays; served more than 407,000 meals and snacks and distributed nearly 250,000 disaster emergency supplies such as diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items.
Trained Red Cross volunteers also provided health services such as replacing lost medications and eyeglasses, emotional support and spiritual care to people whose lives have been turned upside down. More than 16,000 mental health and health services were provided to support and care for those affected. To date, the Southern Gulf Chapter provided direct financial assistance to more than 4,600 residents with majorly damaged or destroyed homes.
As one of the hardest hit areas, the Southern Gulf Chapter continues to provide services to its constituents, as they move into the long-term recovery phase. Undertaking disaster relief efforts such as home fires, flooding and Hurricane Irma would not be possible without the support of trained Red Cross volunteers – generous and selfless individuals who leave their own homes and families to help – many of them responding to multiple relief operations or deploying multiple times. Volunteers are vital to the mission delivery.
This March, become a hero in your local community by joining with the Red Cross to give back to those in need. Become a Red Cross volunteer and find out how you can help! Visit redcross.org/volunteer. You can also join us in supporting families impacted by disaster and #help1family on Giving Day – Wednesday, March 28, a 24-hourfundraising campaign supporting the work of the Red Cross. Donate now by visiting redcross.org/givingday, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.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.