CHARLESTON- As 2013 draws to a close the American Red Cross is asking people to remember those in need by giving something meaningful - giving hope to those in need.
Every nine minutes the Red Cross responds to a disaster in this country and a financial donation can help the nearly 70,000 people who turn to the Red Cross every year for assistance. Regardless of the size of the event, the Red Cross responds in the same way - with shelter, food, clothing and emotional support.
Whether a home fire or a major disaster, many lost everything they owned this year. The Red Cross' work is made possible by the generosity of the American public. You can help people affected by making a contribution to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift helps prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters.
With winter activities, inclement weather and seasonal illnesses, December can be a difficult time to collect enough blood to meet patient needs. The Red Cross encourages blood donors of all types, but especially those O negative, A negative and B negative donors to give blood. To find a blood drive in your area you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org.
In a year that had deadly tornadoes, fierce wildfires and destructive floods in many states, the West Virginia Region of the American Red Cross assisted over 800 families who experienced fires, flooding, and storm damage between Jan. 1 and Dec. 27 in 2013.
The West Virginia Region has assisted almost 2,500 individuals this year with more than $500,000 in direct financial assistance. Staff and volunteers have responded to more than 750 home fires, 60 homes impacted by flooding and storm damage and 15 other incidents.
"This year, the Red Cross continued to serve the people of the West Virginia Region through the dedicated work of its staff and volunteers," said Erica Mani, CEO of the American Red Cross West Virginia Region. "2013 was a busy year and we are so very thankful for everyone who supported our efforts, including our donors, to help those in need."
West Virginia experiences a high number of home fires. So far in the month of December, the West Virginia Region has assisted more than 70 families affected by a home fire. To help support the work, officials will begin a campaign on Jan. 1 which is entitled "Heroes for Fire Victims" which provides the opportunity for someone to commit $1,250 to help support a family of four who have had an experienced a home fire. The campaign will run until March 30.
Nationally there were 146 large disaster relief efforts led by the American Red Cross in 42 states and territories between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1 in 2013. The Red Cross disaster responses across the country in 2013 included:
- 16,700 workers-many of them volunteers-providing care, comfort and support to those in need.
- 89,000 contacts by specially trained workers with disaster victims who needed mental health support or health services, which is more people than the amount of travelers who pass through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on an average day.
- 1.8 million meals and snacks, the equivalent of feeding the entire population of Philadelphia lunch in a day.
- 29,000 overnight stays in shelters for people forced from their homes by disasters, enough to fill the largest hotel in New York City for more than two weeks.
- 1 million relief items distributed, including more than 33,700 toothbrushes.
- $74 million to more than 60 nonprofit partners to help people and communities recover from Superstorm Sandy.
In April, flooding struck 10,000 homes in 10 counties in Illinois. More than a thousand Red Cross volunteers provided shelter and food to displaced families and delivered relief supplies to those returning to waterlogged homes. In September, almost a half-year's worth of rain fell in just three days across several counties in and around Boulder, Colo. Red Crossers responded and served more than 204,000 meals and snacks, handed out more than 249,000 relief items and provided about 15,000 health and mental health contacts. The Red Cross also provided a total of 3,800 shelter stays for people forced from their homes by the flooding.
The largest and most deadly tornado outbreak in 2013 came in Oklahoma in May, when a series of tornadoes ripped through the state, and Red Cross workers were there to comfort the survivors, including the community of Moore, Okla., where two elementary schools were struck by a deadly EF-4 tornado. More than six months later, the Red Cross continues to help residents through long-term recovery centers and other community programs.
In addition, Mississippi was hit particularly hard by severe spring storms for the third year in a row, including a tornado that severely damaged the Red Cross building in Hattiesburg in February. Again in April, the Red Cross was there, opening shelters, providing food and water, and helping survivors recover. In November, dozens of tornadoes cut a path of destruction through the Midwest, damaging more than 1,000 homes and leaving hundreds of thousands without power during a cold snap.
When wildfires threatened communities, the Red Cross offered evacuees a safe place to stay and supported first responders. In total, the Red Cross mobilized more than 2,000 workers to support 10 large wildfire responses in eight states during 2013, such as Colorado, Arizona, California and New Mexico.
It's not just the high-profile disasters that left thousands of people in need this year. The Red Cross also responded to more than 52,000 home fires across America, helping 226,000 people get back on their feet. For those who have suffered a home fire, the event can be just as devastating as the high profile disasters that get a large amount of national attention. Regardless of the size of the event, the Red Cross responds in the same way-with shelter, food and emotional support.
In 2013, the American Red Cross assisted an estimated 1.3 million people affected by disasters in 24 countries outside of the U.S. These included storms and floods in the Philippines, Argentina, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Red Cross workers continue to respond to the ongoing humanitarian need created by the civil unrest in Syria, as well as needs caused by conflicts in other areas around the world. The Red Cross responded to food insecurity issues in Malawi and Zimbabwe and continued earthquake recovery work in Haiti that has been ongoing since 2010. Additionally, the Red Cross continued its vital work in reconnecting families separated by conflict and disaster, reconnecting 886 families this year alone.
The work of the American Red Cross is made possible by donations. Donations can be made by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent by mail to a local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross West Virginia Region at 113 Lakeview Drive, Charleston, WV 25301.
To learn how you can volunteer and make a difference in your local community or to learn more about the West Virginia Region of the American Red Cross please call (304) 340-3650 or visit redcrosswv.org.