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SAF Volunteers Receive Honors for Their Work with National Guard

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Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff, The Adjutant General of NJ, recognizing Red Cross volunteers at the National Guard Armory at Lawrenceville. Photo courtesy of NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Red Cross volunteers serve the men and women who serve our country every day.

American Red Cross North Jersey Region Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteers received honors from the State of New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the New Jersey National Guard for their support of members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. 

On Sunday, December 14, the 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment of the New Jersey National Guard presented a certificate of appreciation to Red Cross North Jersey Region SAF volunteers in recognition of their ongoing support of the regiment. Terri Illes, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services manager, accepted the award on behalf of the region’s SAF volunteers. 

“I am very proud of the compassion and unwavering commitment of our volunteers,” said Illes. “They are always there to serve the men and women who serve our country every day as well as their families.” 

During the past year, SAF volunteers have helped more than 200 members of the 113th Infantry Regiment and their families prepare for deployment. Volunteers hosted pre-deployment events to familiarize military families with the Red Cross programs and services available to them while their loved one is deployed. Volunteers also attended two deployment ceremonies for the unit, where they provided comfort and emotional support to military families.  

While the unit is deployed, volunteers assist military families who need to send emergency communications to their service member overseas. Red Cross workers use advanced communications technologies to link service members with their families. Our Emergency Communications Center quickly and efficiently obtains the required information and sends emergency communication messages to service members of every branch of service wherever in the world they happen to be.

The American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey Board of Directors helped send some holiday cheer to members of the 113th Infantry Regiment who were away from their families during the holidays. Board members collected items for “comforts of home” packages and brought together volunteers to help sort and prepare these packages, which were topped with bundles of holiday greetings from the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program. 

In addition, the State of New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs honored the work of Red Cross volunteer Johanna Davis and fellow SAF volunteers during a ceremony on Thursday, December 11 at the National Guard Armory at Lawrenceville. Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, presented Davis with a certificate of appreciation and coin in recognition of her support of service members and families of the New Jersey National Guard. 

For the past eight years, Davis  has coordinated and helped distribute more than 60 Thanksgiving gift baskets and gift cards each year to New Jersey National Guard families separated from their service members due to mobilization or deployments. 

The initiative began years ago, with realtors at the Princeton office of Keller Williams Real Estate wanting to say ‘Thank You’ to the troops by helping military families during the holiday. Davis helped connect the realtors’ good intentions with the military families through the Lawrenceville Armory and the idea took off quickly. Soon gift baskets were being donated by realtors throughout Mercer County and Davis and fellow SAF volunteers like Linda Ruffini continued to coordinate the thoughtful Thanksgiving tradition year after year.

“It’s my pleasure to have been instrumental in recognizing the efforts of the American Red Cross and Johanna Davis, along with the Mercer County Realtors,” said Jane E. Hackbarth, family assistance specialist, Lawrenceville Armory Family Assistance Center. “This is our way to say ‘Thank You’ for the community support that has extended over the last eight years.”

THE SERVICE TO THE ARMED FORCES The unwavering commitment of the Red Cross to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families continues to grow and develop more than a century after Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the U.S. Army. Today, the Red Cross is meeting the needs of a changing military and expanding services to veterans. Red Cross support of military members and their families enhances morale and contributes to increased operational capability in several ways.

The American Red Cross provides critical services with a caring touch to men and women in all branches of the United States military, active duty personnel, reservists and members of the National Guard, and their families. Through our Service to the Armed Forces program, service men and women are eligible for three types of assistance beginning on the first day of enlistment: Emergency Services, Service to Military Families and Service to Military and Veterans Hospitals.

BECOME A VOLUNTEER Every single day, the American Red Cross helps people in emergencies. Whether it’s one displaced family, thousands of disaster victims, or providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran or support to a military family member, our vital work is made possible by people like you. It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things. The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. For more information or to register as a volunteer, visit