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Music and Disaster Relief-It's a Winning Combination
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Red Cross
April 27, 2009

John and Vicki Jenks are disaster volunteers for the American Red Cross of East Central Wisconsin in Oshkosh. As disaster volunteers, during designated weeks Vicki and John are on call 24/7. When a disaster occurs in the community, they leave the dinner table, go out in the middle of the night, miss social functions and do whatever it takes to help people in need.

red cross volunteers
Vicki Jenks, John Jenks & Brent Wojnowski (Disaster Services Manager) poise with the disaster trailer and supplies.

The couple’s first gift is compassion—the compassion to support individuals and families affected by disasters. Providing people they have never met, and some they know, with Red Cross services such a warm and safe place to stay, food and clothing, prescription and eye glass replacements, and more.

Vicki and John are also musicians. Through their gift of music they raised the funds to purchase a badly needed Red Cross disaster trailer. 

In looking for a way to purchase a disaster trailer, the two decided to write a musical tribute to Clara Barton. They did so, holding two musical concerts in their own home. The concerts were a community event. Civic groups, businesses and friends pitched in to help. Vicki and John rallied support from musicians to play; countless friends provided baked-goods; there was a celebrity bartender, a volunteer publicist for the articles and photos and another volunteer to coordinate a silent auction.

At the musical, the audience was placed in the battlefields of the 1800s. Musical instruments produced the sound of chimes, canons, gunfire, lightning and even birds and frogs. The magical moments transported one to the battlefields where Clara Barton served.

Through talent, collaboration, compassion and friendship, enough money was raised to purchase the disaster trailer, filled with enough supplies to establish a 50-person shelter should the need arise. In fact, there was money left over, which was applied to a Red Cross fund that supports local disaster victims. 

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.

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