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How is the Red Cross Making a Difference? In More Ways than you May Realize

You may know them for disaster relief or blood donations; you may not realize the scope of what they do or even who your local American Red Cross chapter is however.  Executive Director Beth Sweeney says home fires are the most common disasters the local chapter helps with.  In the last 6 months, the Red Cross has responded to 124 home fires in the chapter’s 24 counties which includes White, Gallatin, Edwards, Wayne, and Wabash.

“We try to get there within a couple of hours.  We provide that initial care and compassion to that family.  Oftentimes, they’re sitting in their car as their home is burning to the ground…and we reassure them that we’re going to walk through this together.  If they are displaced from their home, we provide financial assistance on the spot to help with those first 48 hours to help meet those basic needs whether it’s a hotel stay, food, clothing to get through those next couple of days and then we set them up with caseworkers to help provide additional support for those unmet needs.”

In addition to disaster relief, the Red Cross also wants to help save lives and arm folks in vulnerable situations with smoke alarms.

“We will provide and install up to 3 smoke detectors in your home.  It’s a free service.  We’ll come to your home; we do this by appointment, though we do sometimes canvass neighborhoods and literally knock on doors to see if people need smoke detectors.  But you can call the Red Cross and we’ll set up an appointment and our volunteers will come install those smoke detectors.  We’ll provide some safety information; walk through the home to make sure you have a safe path out.  We’ll talk to you about making a fire escape plan with your family and that’s something else we encourage.”

Additionally, when you make a donation to the Red Cross, Sweeney says you can earmark it to make sure it stays locally.

“You can also designate your money to go right back in to the southwest chapter.  We track those donations by zipcode, so if you write a check to the Red Cross or you donate online, that money will go right back into your community and that makes me really proud to be able to say that.  It’s going to help people right in your backyard like we talked about; people that are impacted by disasters, that financial assistance that we provide them.”

You can find out more about what the local chapter of the American Red Cross does and how you can help by visiting http://www.redcross.org.  You can also call 1-800-Red-Cross and Sweeney says they’ll connect you with someone at the local chapter.

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