Save Lives at the American Red Cross

Staff Writer: Haley Roe-Deters

In a tradition dating back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American Red Cross celebrates March as Red Cross Month. It is a great time to celebrate and recognize the everyday heroes in our community—those who help others in their neighborhoods, down the street or across the country.

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The logo of the American Red Cross

Picture Courtesy: Creative Commons

March has been known as Red Cross Month across the country since 1943 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued the declaration in support of American Red Cross efforts to raise funds for World War II. During Red Cross Month, and all year-long, the Red Cross is present in communities across the United States to provide relief to disaster victims and to ensure a stable blood supply for patients and hospitals.

The founder of the American Red Cross was Clara Barton. She started it in 1881 and served as the director until her death. Clara Barton was born on December 25, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts. She became a teacher, worked in the U.S. Patent Office and was an independent nurse during the Civil War.

While visiting Europe, she worked with a relief organization known as the International Red Cross, and lobbied for an American branch when she returned home. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881, and Barton served as its first president.

In only one year, 2013,  the Red Cross foundation provided urgent assistance to millions of people affected by disaster in 24 countries, they continued to help 4.3 million people in Haiti rebuild their lives. They assisted in vaccinating more than 98 million children against measles. They continued to invest in disaster preparedness, and  making communities less vulnerable in 32 countries. They helped reconnect nearly 900 families separated by international war and disaster. Plus they educated 46,000 people in the United States about international humanitarian law.

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. Volunteers at the American Red Cross do great things every day from helping communities prepare for emergencies, providing training in lifesaving skills, assisting people affected by disasters, connecting families or simply lending a helping hand to members of the community. Their volunteers come from a variety of cultures and from all walks of life. Many want to help after a major disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Others lend their skills or professional expertise to benefit members of their local communities.

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One of the many places the American Red Cross helped after Hurricane Katrina.

Picture courtesy: Creative Commons.

The American Red Cross does what many people are afraid of doing. A lot of times they put their own lives on the line to save another life. They have saved too many lives to count, and donating blood or just being a donor means you have also saved a life.  “Donating blood can be scary, but if you look past that, it is actually an amazing opportunity.” Says junior Cole Haselhorst.

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