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Red Cross Chapter Eagerly Trains Its Youth Community
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Kathlene Hestir
April 20, 2007

The American Red Cross of Central South Carolina Chapter and the Blood Services for that region received a $1000 youth program grant, awarded by the American Red Cross organization, to promote their initiative to encourage youth to participate in local community service programs. This chapter plans to join hands with their precious youth to observe National and Global Youth Service Day, April 20-22, by using the grant to organize a Youth Training Institute (YTI) at its location in Columbia, South Carolina on April 21st.

“We have about 100 kids signed up now, but we are hoping for another 50. It is going to be a lot of fun and it will teach kids important life saving skills,” said South Carolina chapter and blood services' Volunteer Resources Manager Erica Thomas. The YTI, which is free-of-charge and open to anyone in the 11 to 24 age bracket, includes a complimentary lunch and will provide health information, as well as babysitting classes and CPR training. Specifically for young adults ages 18 and older, there will be information on how to become a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, which offers relief to victims of fires, floods, and wide-scale natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

As well as disaster assistance, the Central SC Chapter is also dedicated to national and international relief involving health care issues. This chapter hopes to alert and engage more youth in the Measles Initiative. Partnering with several other major relief organizations, the American Red Cross society has raised millions of dollars to help prevent the spread of measles through massive vaccination campaigns and routine immunizations. The overall goal is to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent by the year 2010. The Central SC Chapter plans to educate young people attending their YTI on ways to get involved in this global campaign.

Last year this chapter held its first Youth Training Institute. At that time, there was no grant to fund the event, so all materials had to be donated by community businesses. The Central SC Chapter often works together with church, business, and school groups to aid the community, while it also sponsors and supports high school and college Red Cross Clubs efforts to get youth involved at a younger age.

Kathlene Hestir is majoring in Public Relations at the University of Georgia. She is a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and she is also an active participant in the Power of Two program which strives to get PR professionals and students involved in American Red Cross media-related initiatives.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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