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A Gift of Comfort and Hope

“I’m nearly 50 now, and no gifts have given me as much comfort and hope as that Red Cross volunteer and the little kit she handed me back in 1976,” said Chris, a flood survivor. “I still have the blanket.”

When disaster strikes, whether a flood, tornado or home fire, the Red Cross arrives on the scene with supplies, comfort and care to help those affected. During March is Red Cross Month, the Red Cross is sharing stories from individuals across the country who have turned to the Red Cross in his or her time of need, individuals like Chris who lost everything.

It was June 1976 when the Teton Dam in southeastern Idaho failed and billions of gallons of water rushed into the valley below, flooding communities. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed.

“Thousands of residents were left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. I was 13-years-old and I was one of them,” recalls Chris.

“Two days after the dam burst, the National Guard drove around giving instructions where to go for Red Cross assistance. With thousands of others, my family and I lined up at a school that hadn't been damaged. After what seemed like an eternity, a very kind Red Cross volunteer smiled, handed me a personal care kit and a blanket, and assured me that everything would be alright. When someone has lost everything, it's amazing what a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a blanket can mean.”

Disasters often leave little behind. The everyday necessities often taken for granted are suddenly gone. Although treasured keepsakes cannot be replaced, the Red Cross can offer a tooth brush, a razor, a blanket and perhaps most importantly, a helping hand and a warm embrace.

The power of these seemingly small items handed out by a Red Cross disaster worker helps show those affected by disaster that someone cares, that a person or a family is not alone in their distress. It’s what makes that gift stand apart from all the rest.