Most schools in Virginia begin the day after Labor Day; in fact – it is the law. Students get their books and backpacks (and blisters from new shoes) to learn how to read, write, add… and in many schools – how to volunteer. One of the choices that they have, if their school participates, is to join a Red Cross Club: A program for youth and young adults to volunteer with the Red Cross in elementary, middle, or high schools and colleges.
One of those clubs in the Eastern Virginia Region is the Red Cross Club at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. The club, going into its third year, is definitely an example of service learning at its highest. When it started, it was just a few students, and they were looking at how to bring life guard training to campus. During the 2013-2014 academic year, they had almost 10 active volunteers. They added blood drives, as well as Holiday Mail for Heroes card signing events on campus to send cards to service members and veterans. Bake sales were organized to raise money for their club - - - but instead, chose to give away all of the items with the Red Cross tag so that people would know that they were on campus. According to Maggie Marshall, club president, However by the end of my freshmen year everyone knew we were here on campus and wanted to get involved. Longwood has a big community base to it so not only do the students here come out and support us in blood drives and other events but so do the peop “By the end of [2013-2014] year, everyone knew we were here on campus and wanted to get involved. Longwood has a big community base to it, so not only do the students here come out and support us in blood drives and other events but so do the people from the town.”
This year, the club intends to add additional events, such as hosting birthday parties at the local hospital once or twice a semester to visit with patients and share Red Cross topics; a service project with McGuire Veterans Hospital; and continue current programs. They hope to continue to expand their program by finding other groups to partner with, and of course, getting new volunteer members for their club. When discussing their recent development, club member Anna Marshall said, "Although has club has grown in size, and added projects, I still think the best thing about us is how close we are. We are from different areas across campus, and we have the Red Cross in common. We really get chance to know each other, and we honestly care about each other. We are excited to say 'hi' if we see another Red Cross person on campus."
It seems like they are off to a strong start to get their name out there. Just the other day, they had a table at Longwood’s Organization and Involvement Fair. By the end of the fair, they had three pages worth of people sign up to get more information.
These are skills that these students will use throughout their lives. But… who knows?… the current CEO for the Eastern Virginia region began his career with the Red Cross some years back – as a youth volunteer. A CEO in one of the regions in California also began her service with the Red Cross many years back as a youth/young adult volunteer. It was announced last week that she will become the new Vice President for Red Cross Volunteer Management for the entire country. So, somewhere across the country, in one of our school or college clubs, a future Red Cross CEO or VP could be learning our mission now.
For more information about becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org.