When I ask people what they know about the Red Cross, I usually get two answers – you collect blood and you respond to disasters. Both are correct, but the Red Cross is so much more than just blood and blankets!
The mission of the American Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. We accomplish this mission by focusing on five areas:
- Disaster preparedness, response and recovery, including home fires
- Service to the Armed Forces – military members, veterans and their families
- Blood and platelet collection
- Health and safety training – CPR, AED, first aid, water safety and more
- International humanitarian relief and aid
When a tornado tears across Arkansas, we are used to seeing Red Cross relief vehicles driving into the affected neighborhoods and volunteers in red vests assisting the people impacted by the storm. But the number one threat that occurs every day is less visible. The most common disaster volunteers respond to is residential home fires. The Red Cross in Arkansas responds to an average of three to four home fires every day, and too many of those fires result in injuries or even death. In fact, seven people die every day in home fires across the nation. Though you won’t see it as often on the nightly news, the Red Cross is there, helping meet the immediate emergency needs of those individuals, such as food, shelter, comfort items and emotional support.
There’s more. When a family emergency occurs while a member of our armed forces is deployed, the Red Cross is there for them too. We handle the emergency communications for our active duty service members and provide support to their families. We also care for our veterans – providing emotional support, comfort, resources and referrals through our presence in military installations and VA hospitals across the country and through our Hero Care Center.* From enlistment through retirement, the Red Cross is there to serve those who serve our country.
When a patient needs blood following a surgery or tragic accident, lifesaving blood and blood products are on the shelf ready to use thanks to the thousands of volunteer blood donors across the country. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and therefore approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells (and nearly 7,000 units of platelets) are needed every day. The Red Cross supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, ensuring that hospitals have the products they need on hand to save lives.
When there’s a health emergency, ordinary individuals with Red Cross health and safety training use their skills to administer CPR, an AED or first aid to save lives. The more people trained and ready to respond in these crucial moments, the more lives will be saved in our communities.
When an earthquake shakes Mexico or a tsunami hits Indonesia, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams from around the globe band together to bring relief and hope. They not only respond to disasters, crises and health epidemics, they also help neighborhoods prepare for future disasters and ensure children receive the vaccinations they need to stay healthy. With over 17 million volunteers worldwide, the Red
Cross has immunized over 2 billion children through its measles and rubella campaigns, reconnected more than 9,000 families separated by international crises, and put 29 million at-risk communities on the map through our Missing Maps project.
Preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies is the “why” of our mission. But there’s even more – our 90% volunteer workforce and our funding from charitable donations made by individuals, corporations and foundations, is the “how.” Without the tireless efforts of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors, the American Red Cross could not continue to exist.
By choosing to volunteer with or give financially to the American Red Cross, you make our work possible. You are the “how.” Thank you for joining us in our mission.
*The American Red Cross Hero Care Center is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with two options for requesting assistance: online and by phone. Call the toll free number 1-877-272-7337 or visit redcross.org/herocare to initiate a request for emergency assistance for members of the military currently serving on active duty or to request confidential services for veterans and their families, including suicide prevention.