For more than 60 years, the President of the United States has proclaimed March to be American Red Cross Month, giving the Red Cross an opportunity to promote its services and celebrate its successes in serving communities across the country. These days, the scope has broadened, and also offers Red Cross employees and volunteers the opportunity to educate their elected officials. At the state level, Red Cross chapters and blood services regions have used March as a time to hold Red Cross Days at their state capitols.
American Red Cross Day was a success for many states. Here, participants are photographed with Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia.
(Photo credit: Jenny Aldridge)
The 31 Red Cross chapters and blood service regions that organized a Red Cross Day at their state capitols have already provided positive feedback. In Wisconsin, Red Cross employees and volunteers met with their legislators to educate them about the services the Red Cross provides. Because of this meeting with Red Crossers during this celebration, State Representative Dave Travis (D-WI) knew to contact the American Red Cross Badger Chapter in Madison after his office received a call from a young couple who lost everything in a fire. The Badger Chapter’s Disaster Action Team quickly followed up by providing the family with a hotel room and Client Assistance Cards for food and clothing.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative for Red Cross chapters, blood services regions and volunteers to meet with and educate their elected officials on the services we provide every day in the community,” said Neal Denton, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy for the Red Cross. “It is important for us to develop these relationships now, so we will have a support system already in place during times of disaster.”
Chapters from Maine to Hawaii participated in Red Cross Days at their state capitols. At the event in Alabama, the blood services region held a blood typing booth, which was very popular with legislators. In Minnesota, St. Paul Red Crossers held a blood pressure challenge between the Democrats and Republicans, and found the Democrats had higher blood pressure rates. And in Florida, which was recently hit badly by tornadoes and is often a target each year during hurricane season, Red Crossers received great praise from Governor Charlie Crist, who was very complementary of the response led by the Red Cross to the Central Florida tornadoes, and expressed interest in creating greater partnerships in the future.
“The celebration was a huge success. Many new relationships were established, which we can draw on in the future,” said Mr. Denton.
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.