Red Cross Volunteers Go the Extra Mile to Assist Sandy Victims

Lizzy Kandris
They wanted to go home and we were able to get them home

With the three month anniversary of Hurricane Sandy upon us, the American Red Cross is grateful for the thousands of volunteers who have helped those in need after this large disaster and ongoing recovery effort. Red Cross volunteers are the heart and soul of disaster relief, consistently going the extra mile to get individuals and families back on their feet in the face of devastation.

Making the Journey Home

Red Cross volunteer Marguerite Dillon, a Dallas resident, deployed as a client caseworker in New York City, helping those displaced by Hurricane Sandy. In December, she was assigned to help a mother and two children whose apartment was without electricity in freezing weather. The mother had lost her job because of the storm and with no prospects for finding work anytime soon, the family just wanted to return home to Honduras, but couldn’t afford it.

“It was put in my lap and I ran with it. I don’t like to leave something undone,” Dillon said.

Dillon convinced a hotel to give the family a room at a greatly reduced rate. At Christmas, she purchased presents for the family and put them under the tree in the hotel lobby. Seeing what Dillon had done, the hotel staff provided Christmas dinner for the family.

“I didn’t want them to not to have anything for Christmas,” she said. “That was too sad.”

Dillon obtained clothes for the family from the Salvation Army and the Red Cross donated air miles from the various airlines to provide three tickets to Honduras. Finally, she got the family to the airport on New Year’s Day to board a flight home. Dillon, committed to seeing them through, followed up with a phone call to make sure they made it back safe and well.

“They wanted to go home and we were able to get them home,” Dillon said. “It was a good end.” Dillon said she did what any Red Cross volunteer would have done.

Collecting Comfort for Children

After seeing images of children in New York and New Jersey being evacuated after Superstorm Sandy destroyed their homes, nine-year-old Lizzy Kandris, of Chester, Va. wanted to help. After talking with her family, she decided to create a stuffed animal drive. By the time Christmas arrived, animals had come in from around the country, filling nearly 100 boxes with 2,800 stuffed animals in every shape, size and color.

“I think this will change every child’s life once we get them there,” little Kandris said.

Without a company to deliver the boxes, Christmas came and went as the stuffed animals waited in a donated storage building in Chester. Then, the local CBS affiliate reached out to the Virginia Capital Red Cross Chapter to see if they could help.

Red Cross volunteers Lisa Loudermilk and Jacqueline Muoio, stepped up to make the six hour drive from Richmond, Va. to New York. Moved by Kandris’ efforts, the Red Cross volunteers also took pictures with one of the stuffed animals as it traveled along with them to create an album for Kandris.

The teddy bears arrived at the Greater New York Red Cross Chapter on January 3 and were distributed by the Red Cross and partner agencies, to help bring a smile to the many small faces affected by Hurricane Sandy.

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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.