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A Personal Connection to the Red Cross: Read Their Stories

Red Cross Volunteers
That's when I realized that through the American Red Cross, an ordinary person could make an immense difference in the lives of others.

Nearly every second of every day, the American Red Cross assists someone in need. That someone could be a disaster victim who lost everything, a hospital patient who receives a blood transfusion, a deployed military member who has a family emergency, or a stroke victim who survived thanks to a CPR- trained individual. It is in these crucial moments that the Red Cross answers a call for help and makes a personal connection.

And sometimes that connection inspires a dedication to the Red Cross mission that lasts for years to come.

Volunteering Makes a Difference

“It all started with a speeding ticket,” said Luke Bolz of Springfield, Missouri. Seven years ago, Bolz began volunteering with the Red Cross Southern Missouri Region to complete community service hours resulting from a traffic violation.

“I was answering phones one day when I saw a gentleman come out of our casework office with a caseworker. His home had burned down the night before. She was talking him through some last minute things as he left when he turned around and engulfed her with this big bear hug. That was the moment. That's when I started paying attention,” said Bolz. “That's when I realized that through the American Red Cross, an ordinary person could make an immense difference in the lives of others.”

Bolz kept volunteering, an average of about 30 hours a week, immersing himself in the mission and work of the Red Cross when an opportunity arose.

“I happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right experiences as a volunteer when our director of volunteer services resigned. I applied, and the rest is history,” said Bolz, now a Red Cross employee.

Helping Save Lives One Blood Donor at a Time

When Robert Purdy was 12 years old, he and his little brother received new bicycles for Christmas. The boys decided to ride their new bikes to their cousin’s house nearby after breakfast that morning. On the way there, Purdy was hit by a truck.

“The light turned yellow and I thought I could make it,” said Purdy, recalling the traumatic incident. He was rushed to the hospital where he received two units of blood that helped save his life.

“I have always been grateful for the donors that saved my life,” said Purdy.

Decades later, while job searching, Purdy came across an opportunity with Red Cross Blood Services.

“(It) gave me stars in my eyes,” said Purdy. “I started thinking how I could help people if I could just get that job.” And that’s exactly what he did. A Tucson, Arizona resident, Purdy still works for the Red Cross today.

“I am so proud of what I do. I am rewarded every day with every donor that I move into that donor center, building, church or bus.”

Supporting Military Members and Their Families

Shawn Patrick McClain was deployed in the U.S. Navy aboard an aircraft carrier when a Red Cross emergency message reached him. His mother had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital.

“I was devastated, but knew I needed to go be with her,” said McClain. The Red Cross uses advanced communications technologies to link service members, wherever in the world they happen to be stationed, with their families.

The Red Cross immediately put McClain in contact with the Navy-Marine Core Relief Society to coordinate his departure. Because of the Red Cross notification, within two hours McClain was on his way home.

“I am forever thankful to the American Red Cross for their services,” said McClain.

Today McClain works as a veterans outreach specialist for the Red Cross South George Chapter.

“As far as I am concerned I would be doing an injustice if I didn't support the efforts, and help those who are need of assistance like I was,” said McClain.

Learn more about the Red Cross at

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.