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Red Cross begins Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service despite weather delay

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We are more united when we serve others

KNOXVILLE – January 18, 2013 – The American Red Cross, 6921 Middlebrook Pike, will be open to register volunteers for MLK Day of Service today until 6 pm, Saturday from 9-12 and Monday from 9-12. Anyone who already signed up to pick up their supplies may do so during those times. For those who have not pre-registered but are interested in canvassing a neighborhood with vital fire prevention information, please stop by the Red Cross to pick up materials. The weather will be great Saturday, Sunday and Monday for neighborhood canvassing. Anyone having questions may call Lori Marsh at 584-2999.

Volunteers from the American Red Cross Knoxville Regional Chapter will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friday, January 18 through Monday, January 21 by distributing fire safety information to 10,000 homes throughout Knox County. Volunteers will canvass designated neighborhoods and the University of Tennessee campus with fire safety information and talk with community residents, leaving behind educational door hangers with information about preventing or surviving home fires by practicing fire safety and awareness.

The Red Cross is working with Rural Metro, City of Knoxville Office of Neighborhoods, Erie Insurance and University of Tennessee Red Cross Club to make MLK Day of Service a success.

Since 2008, volunteers have celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by reaching more than 300,000 households nationally, holding conversations about fire and safety and providing bilingual fire safety information. Every day the Red Cross helps people affected by more than 170 home fires, which are America’s #1 disaster threat. Most of the nearly 70,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to each year are fire-related but unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented. Fires can affect anyone, regardless of background or geographic location.

For additional information, visit, call 865-584-2999 and ask for either Project Coordinator Lori Marsh, April Stouffer or Volunteer Coordinator Aida Reyes


“We are more united when we serve others.”

Effective Fire Safety Neighborhood Canvassing

Traditionally, “neighborhood” or “door-to-door” canvassing has been used as a tool to get out the vote,” campaign for political candidates and causes, raise money, sell products and more. The strategy of neighborhood canvassing about fire safety is for a much different purpose. The overall goal is to reach as many households as possible with life-saving fire prevention and safety information and to engage as many residents as possible in one-on-one conversations about these topics.

Be prepared with the following supplies—

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Water, even if it’s cold outside
  • Clothes appropriate to the season
  • Map of the area you are canvassing
  • Door hangers
  • Tracking forms, pen/pencil and folder or clip board, if possible
  • Canvassing Techniques and Tips

    Service is an important word to keep in mind for neighborhood canvassing. You’re not there to sell anything. You are there to offer quick facts (a service) about how to prevent home fires and stay safe if one occurs. The residents you engage will come to rely on the American Red Cross for information that could help save lives.

  • Work in pairs when possible for safety, support and fun.
  • Determine the optimal time of day to visit; when people are most likely to be home.
  • Have pre-determined start and end times.
  • Be prepared with a script (see below). Know what you will say.
  • Don’t leave information in anyone’s mailbox. Mailboxes are federal property.
  • If you aren’t comfortable walking up to a particular house, skip it. Remember, safety first!
  • Leave the resident’s property immediately if you are asked to do so.
  • Keep it simple. The best way to get your message across quickly and effectively is to keep it simple.
  • Try to tailor your message to the person and their living situation. For example, if you are talking to a person living alone, you may want to emphasize having working smoke alarms. If it’s a family with children, you may want to emphasize practicing escape plans and having an outside meeting place.
  • You are not expected to know everything about fire prevention and safety. If you get asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, say “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.” The Red Cross Home Fires Web site at is a good resource. Make sure you get back in back touch to address the question.
  • Practice what you are going to say before you get to the door.
  • American Red Cross Contact Information:

    865-584-2999 6921 Middlebrook Pike – Knoxville, TN 37909


    Lori Marsh – 865-414-1685

    April Stouffer – 865-405-9747

    Team Leader:__________________________________

    Here is a script that can be used or adapted:

    “Hello, my name is ____________________, and I’m a volunteer working on behalf of the American Red Cross. (make sure that your name badge is visable). We are here to provide information about how to prevent home fires and protect yourself if a fire should occur in your home or neighborhood.

    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.