Coping with record-breaking disasters during the coronavirus pandemic, families spent more nights in emergency lodging in 2020 than any other year over the past decade.
Altogether, the Red Cross provided more than 1.3 million overnight stays with partners this year for people like Sabrina Allen, who sought refuge from a hurricane with her family at an emergency hotel shelter. There, Red Cross volunteers worked with her to secure a hospital bed and other essentials for her two daughters with special needs.
“People I didn’t even know adopted my family,” she said about the support. “They are my guardian angels.”
Learn more about how Red Cross disaster volunteers helped people like Sabrina in this infographic.
VOLUNTEERS DELIVER URGENT AID Representing more than 90% of the Red Cross workforce, volunteers are the backbone of our lifesaving mission. In 2020, many saw their own homes devastated by disasters — yet still answered the call to help. They included volunteer Linnea Dunn, who supported her community during a Red Cross wildfire response when the blaze destroyed her home.
“When you’re in the middle of something like that, there’s nothing you can do but sit there,” she said. “With the Red Cross, I could at least do something helpful. Just being with people who care and are active and are doing something, it really helped my mental health.”
This year, volunteers also quickly adapted to continue delivering help safely during COVID-19. As the pandemic escalated, most of the 70,000 people who joined our volunteer ranks this year stepped up to fill mission-critical positions, such as disaster shelter and health workers, and blood donor ambassadors and transportation specialists. Volunteers also maintained a constant presence in communities through other lifesaving services too:
- Helping home fire survivors: This year, volunteers have helped more than 223,000 people across the country after home fires. Working with local fire departments, they connect with families by phone or video call, offering a sympathetic ear and linking them to available support, such as a place to stay and emergency financial assistance.
- Supporting military and veteran families: For deployed or separated military families, support during COVID-19 has been critical — as evidenced by an increase in calls this year to the Red Cross Hero Care Network, which facilitates emergency communications among loved ones during a family crisis. In addition, volunteers sewed more than 66,000 face coverings for military installations, veterans’ hospitals and military families in need; provided comfort kits for quarantined military families; delivered virtual courses on topics like stress management during COVID-19; and engaged twice as many military caregivers online since the coronavirus became a pandemic in March.
- Teaching lifesaving skills: Health care and other essential workers rely on Red Cross health and safety courses — adapted with public health protocols like social distancing and online offerings — so they can continue helping on the front lines. Virtual learning has been vital for people of all backgrounds during the pandemic, as the Red Cross saw enrollments double this year for online courses, including new COVID-19 ones for safe work practices and psychological first aid.
- Delivering international aid: COVID-19 knows no borders — and as part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, we’re helping in vulnerable communities. The American Red Cross has deployed seven disaster responders in a remote capacity and contributed more than $4.3 million to support activities like health and hygiene promotion, case detection, and surveillance and contact tracing in the global fight against the coronavirus. We’ve also helped add “hygiene hubs” and installed extra handwashing facilities in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
BLOOD DONATIONS REMAIN ESSENTIAL In 2020, Red Cross blood drive cancellations tripled compared to the year prior — mostly due to COVID-19. Since March, over 50,000 blood drives were canceled as the pandemic forced schools, businesses and community organizations to close, impacting over 1 million blood donation appointments.
Blood donation is an essential service, and everyone’s well-being is our top priority. The Red Cross follows the latest public health guidelines and has put additional precautions in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
This pandemic has also caused the Red Cross to adapt its collections to include plasma from COVID-19 survivors to potentially help those battling the virus recover. Since April, more than 35,000 COVID-19 survivors have rolled up a sleeve to donate plasma — many of whom are first-time blood donors. Their donations have enabled the Red Cross to ship about 91,000 units to hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients.
HOW YOU CAN HELP As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, this continues to be a time to help one another:
- Donate: Make a symbolic gift at redcross.org/gift. A donation of any size makes a difference.
- Give blood: If you’re healthy and feeling well, your blood donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to schedule an appointment today.
- Volunteer: Review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday.
CORPORATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS HELP
Our Mission Leaders are an elite group of companies or organizations that commit $3 million annually to the mission of the American Red Cross. While each partnership is different, these Mission Leaders have made truly transformational gifts in support of our vital work: Amazon; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Latter-day Saint Charities; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and Wells Fargo.
The generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
ADGP $1 Million members are: Amazon; American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Anthem Foundation; Bank of America; Caterpillar Foundation; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; The Home Depot Foundation; Latter-day Saint Charities; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Lowe's Companies, Inc.; Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; State Farm; Truist Foundation; UPS; VSP Global; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; and Wells Fargo.
ADGP $500,000 members are: Altria Group; Aon; Capital One; Citi Foundation; The Clorox Company; The Coca-Cola Foundation; Delta Dental Community Care Foundation; Discover; Edison International; Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation; Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative; Ford Motor Company; Fox Corporation; General Motors; Grainger; HCA Healthcare; IBM Corporation; International Paper; The J.M. Smucker Company; Johnson Controls Foundation; The Kroger Co. Foundation; LHC Group; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Merck Foundation; Mondelēz International Foundation; New Balance Foundation; PayPal; PepsiCo Foundation; Progressive Insurance; PwC Charitable Foundation; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Sands Cares; Southwest Airlines; The Starbucks Foundation; Takeda Pharmaceutical; Target; The TJX Companies, Inc.; Toyota; United Airlines; The USAA Foundation, Inc.; Visa Foundation; The Walt Disney Company; and The Wawa Foundation.
Disaster Responder Program members are: 7-Eleven Cares Foundation; Adobe; American Express; Assurant; AstraZeneca; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; Avangrid Foundation; The Ball Foundation; Barclays; BMW of North America; CarMax; Choice Hotels International; Cisco Foundation; CNA Insurance; The Coca-Cola Company; Consumer Cellular; CSX; Darden Foundation; DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation; Dominion Energy; Duke Energy; Equitable; Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation, LLC; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; Humble Bundle; The Kraft Heinz Company Foundation; Lenovo; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Mastercard; Neiman Marcus Group; Northrop Grumman; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; Old Dominion Freight Line; Procter & Gamble; Prudential Financial; Raytheon Technologies; Rodan + Fields Prescription for Change Foundation; Ryder System, Inc.; Security Finance’s Lending Hand Foundation; Southeastern Grocers Home of BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie; Tata Consultancy Services; TD Ameritrade; Trane Technologies Charitable Foundation; U-Haul International; and U.S. Bank Foundation.