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Red Cross Involves Young Volunteers in Meaningful Work
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November 2, 2009

What assignments does a young American Red Cross volunteer receive? The same assignments as others. At the Red Cross, young volunteers work side-by-side with everyone else.

Presidential Interns taking a break after volunteering at the Alexandria Festival in Alexandria, Virginia, this summer
Presidential Interns taking a break after volunteering at the Alexandria Festival in Alexandria, Virginia, this summer.
Photo Credit: Bianca Kahlenberg

Become a Red Cross volunteer and you’ll be helping people facing a disaster and in need of shelter or food, organizing blood drives and giving blood, teaching lifesaving skills such as water safety and CPR, learning about International Humanitarian Law, providing services to military families, and more.

November is National Youth Involvement Month at the Red Cross. It’s just the right time to contact your local Red Cross chapter and volunteer. Serve. Make friends. Have fun. Learn more about yourself and your world.

Be sure to join the National YouthWire. This group email list-serv for youth volunteers lets you know what’s going on, including news of national initiatives and opportunities for increased involvement.

The American Red Cross YouthWire is managed by volunteer Bianca Kahlenberg. Bianca is a sophomore at the University of Florida, majoring in Political Science. Her favorite work at the Red Cross is disaster services.

Bianca’s Red Cross Experience

Bianca started volunteering with the Red Cross the way many young people do. The summer before her freshman year of high school she attended the youth leadership development camp at her local chapter in Martin County, Florida.  

Bianca’s older brother had been a volunteer with the chapter when he was in high school and was a veteran counselor for the camp. Her brother had told her about the camp and she learned about the opportunities to gain volunteer hours, so she went. 

“Honestly,” says Bianca, “my first motivation to volunteer was to meet the volunteer hour requirements of my school curriculum. But it wasn't long until I stopped keeping track of the hours and just volunteered because I enjoyed it so much.”

When Bianca went back to the chapter and helped plan a fundraiser, she really started to love being a Red Cross volunteer. Planning the youth program's Spaghetti Dinner Silent Auction fundraiser may not sound life changing, but it was for her.

Up until that summer Bianca confides that she was the shyest 14 year old you could ever meet. That summer she learned that for some reason that very same girl had a gift for asking people to donate to the American Red Cross.

Bianca learned how powerful the Red Cross symbol is to a community and she feel in love with what it means to be part of such a respectable organization. 

She volunteered with the Martin County Chapter throughout high school.  She focused on fundraising and her passion, disaster services.

At 19, Bianca has been a Red Cross volunteer for six years. Her enthusiasm for the Red Cross still runs strong. 

Bianca serves as the Vice Chair of the National Youth Council and President of the Red Cross Gators at the University of Florida. She was also a Presidential Intern this past summer, working at national headquarters in the disaster services department. 

She says one theme runs the strongest for her throughout the time she has spent with the organization:  “The American Red Cross gave me—a shy, quiet 14-year-old girl—the chance to make a difference.”

A Red Cross Experience is Waiting for You

Bianca hastens to add that there is nothing special in her Red Cross volunteer experience. 

She has met countless other youth volunteers from across the country, and realizes that the Red Cross is a premier organization because of the opportunities given to Red Cross volunteers.

Bianca believes that if it weren't for the Red Cross she would not be the person she is today. The Red Cross has taught her priceless life and professional lessons.

“The fact that the Red Cross offers this opportunity to volunteers of all ages is a very special fact,” Bianca observes. “Join us this month. Subscribe to the YouthWire to get Red Cross news. And contact with your local Red Cross to become a volunteer. Make November 2009 the month you change a life, starting with your own.”

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; 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 mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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