95 years of service
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 11:06
March is national Red Cross Month, and the local chapter of the organization is once again reminding the community that their donations, financial or otherwise, can mean the difference between emergency assistance and going without.
The American Red Cross of Northwest Florida was founded on March 5, 1917, according to Jerry Kindle, chief executive officer, and is celebrating its 95th year of service to Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties.
The panhandle operation provides a variety of services including delivering humanitarian relief during natural disasters, providing support to the military, keeping the nation’s blood supply stocked and responding to emergency situations.
The Red Cross is an all-volunteer organization with six local offices and almost 900 volunteers. Locally, these members assisted with emergency management of more than 240 disasters and helped more than 1,300 military members connect with their families in cases of individual emergency.
During the recent severe weather, the Red Cross responded to the tornado that hit McDavid on March 9, as well as fires at five houses, two lightning strikes and a wind damaged roof. All of these relief efforts occur with the help of dedicated volunteers.
“We were busy,” said Kindle. “The storms caused havoc.”
Kindle said the biggest misconception the public has about the Red Cross is that the organization is federally funded. The Red Cross relies solely on donations, which Kindle says have been “hurt by economy and our need is up 50 percent and most of that is house fires.”
Northwest Florida Red Cross is always in need of volunteers who are at the heart of the organization’s mission. These volunteers perform a variety of functions including teaching classes on CPR and water safety, helping to staff the hospitals at Eglin and Hurlburt, staffing disaster action teams and casework for clients.
In celebration of Red Cross Month, the panhandle chapter will be hosting an open house at their new offices on Naval Air Station Pensacola on March 24 at 10 a.m. The office is located in Building 624, room 232.
Additionally, both the Pensacola and Destin locations of The Melting Pot will be donating a portion of their proceeds this month to the Red Cross.
Community members who would like to volunteer their time or make a financial donation should contact the local Red Cross at 1-800-773-7620.
“When people join the Red Cross by volunteering, donating blood, taking a course or making a contribution,” said Kindle, “they enable us to continue our work, both here at home and around the world.”