Every day there is more in the news about the measles outbreak in the U.S., but the American Red Cross has been focused on the virus—and its elimination—for nearly fifteen years. In that time, the Red Cross, as a partner in the Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI), has vaccinated 1.8 billion children in some 80 countries, helping to raise measles vaccination coverage to 84% globally, and reduced measles deaths by 71%.
To do this, dedicated American Red Cross volunteers and clubs help raise funding, through the “Vaccinate a Village” program. The project raises awareness about and helps raise funds to vaccinate children against the deadly and highly contagious disease globally.
In Vicenza, Italy on the U.S. military base, the Vicenza High School Red Cross Club is extremely active, supporting their community through volunteer projects every year. In October 2014, they decided they wanted to take their service efforts to a global level. They choose to “Vaccinate a Village” against measles.
Antonio Tartaglia, a senior at Vicenza High School and the Fundraising Officer for the club, assembled a team and they set an ambitious goal to raise $500 to vaccinate “one village” by February 2015. "The Red Cross symbolizes hope, and through Vaccinate a Village we have been able to spread hope to those in most need. I volunteer for Red Cross because I know what I am doing will serve for a greater cause," said Anthony.
The first fundraising event was held on November 28th, the infamous Black Friday. Students spent hours gift-wrapping for donations at the on base shopping center. In just a few hours they raised $400 and were well on their way to reaching their goal
The club then planned a bake sale in hopes of raising the remaining money needed to vaccinate one village. Thanks to the amazing generosity of the Vicenza Military Community, the students far exceeded expectations and raised an additional $500!
This dedicated group far eclipsed their original goal and now have raised over $1000 – enough to vaccinate two villages.
The entire club has been very involved with the project since day one – creating posters, baking, wrapping and participating in the every aspect of the fundraising events. They are the definition of global citizens, committed to helping make their community- and our world- a better place.
At just $1 to vaccinate a child, the measles vaccine is one of the most cost effective interventions in global health. Measles is a highly contagious virus, spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. When one person has measles, 90% of unvaccinated people they come into close contact with will become infected. Through their hard work, the Vicenza Red Cross club has helped ensure 1000 children will never have to suffer from this devastating disease.
To learn more about the Measles and Rubella Initiative and how you can help immunize children against this disease visit www.measlesrubellainitiative.org