Today many life events are being significantly impacted by the pandemic. We watch as graduations are canceled, weddings postponed, and funerals attended virtually. For many, the sting of not supporting one another in person through those life events can be painful.
Particularly affected are our U.S. military families, who face unique hardships compounded by COVID-19. Living far away from family, uncertainty in the job market and not knowing when your next move will be, are all things that can feel overwhelming. However, support is available.
From Canceled to Reimagined
This year, the American Red Cross in Missouri scheduled a baby shower to support active duty, veteran and military spouse moms-to-be. Then COVID-19 struck. Plans were changed, postponed and then cancellation was pending. Keeping every mom safe at an indoor shower seemed impossible.
However, thanks to the quick thinking of some incredible Red Crossers, the shower quickly pivoted to an outdoor, curbside event. According to Sandy Vaughn, Service to the Armed Forces regional director, “every single detail was covered by volunteers, and it was great to be able to support so many families.”
More than 50 volunteers came donning face masks and following social distance protocols to set up items in the parking lot. Arriving moms didn’t even have to leave their cars, as each volunteer loaded their items into trunks and back seats as participants drove through.
Supporting the Whole Military Family
The shower provided for more than 75 military families in financial need (identified as having the lowest military pay grades). Each recipient received over $1,200 worth of baby materials such as play pens, car seats, bottles, diapers and other essential supplies.
“We got so much more than we anticipated,” Scott Air Force Base Airman Staff Sergeant Jonathan Hazelwood said. “We appreciate everyone who is out here making this event happen.” He and his wife, Samantha, recently had a baby girl.
“I feel blessed and grateful to receive this support from the Red Cross,” Danielle Shea said. She and her husband both serve in the Coast Guard and are expecting a girl in October.
Two volunteers who went above and beyond the call of duty were, Scott and Sheila Reed. Sheila is on the Missouri Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces committee and she says her husband, Scott, is her right-hand helper. Both were integral in making this event run smoothly. “We worked in various positions throughout, we opened and inventoried gifts, organized the storeroom, arranged transportation and worked out details for making a curbside shower work,” shares Sheila. They even traveled over three hours to deliver baby items to a Missouri military mom who couldn’t attend because she had just given birth. To keep her safe, they dropped the items at her doorstep, waving to her through the glass door before driving back home.
From Anheuser-Busch to American Red Cross Volunteer
Scott Reed spent 26 years working at Anheuser-Busch and traveled extensively. He shares that volunteering to help others has been one of the greatest joys of his life. Through his work at Anheuser-Busch, he saw firsthand how companies can make an impact in their local communities by supporting the Red Cross. Scott noted that “companies supporting our military families through the Red Cross is crucial. The need is great and so is their appreciation. They protect my freedoms all while being separated from their own support systems. It’s the least we can do.”
Anheuser-Busch has been a supporter of the Red Cross for decades and in recent years has been a dedicated member of our Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Giving Program. Members of this program stand with the Red Cross as we help military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with and respond to the challenges of military service.
In addition to encouraging employees like Reed to volunteer, Anheuser-Busch has continued to go above and beyond. Because of their commitment to the mission of the Red Cross, including their tremendous support to SAF, they recently were recognized as a Mission Leader. Mission Leaders are elite companies and organizations who step up in times of need and make vital commitments to help the Red Cross help those who need it most. Mission Leaders drive innovation through donations of cash, products in kind, and through skills and expertise at all levels. The Reeds noted that they believe other companies should step up and follow suit. The need is great and the Red Cross is there to alleviate suffering each and every day, but they need the support of individuals and corporations to continue that work.
Volunteer at the Red Cross
In the face of disasters like COVID-19, the Red Cross works to ease people’s suffering. Find out how you can volunteer at home and across the globe at redcross.org.