By Kate Huntley
Along with the invaluable work the Red Cross has done in the Russo-Ukrainian region at Forward Operating Sites, their reach has extended far beyond operational support and impacted local communities as well. Volunteers have done an outstanding job engaging local community partners and coming up with creative ways to inject normal life into traumatic circumstances.
While at the Powidz site, Gerald witnessed Red Cross volunteers gathering bottle caps from plastic water bottles used to hydrate the soldiers. When he asked why they were collecting bottle caps, a volunteer explained that they were recycling them in order to raise money for a local orphanage. This effort, he explained, was completely organic and organized by Red Cross volunteers— it did not come from the facility staff. Rather than throwing away the bottle caps, they first wanted to see if there was a way they could support the local community with them.
Our deployed SAF team also built a healing garden in Romania for soldiers to plant flowers, relax, and step away from their day-to-day grind. Being able to enjoy beautiful and relaxing greenery infused a semblance of normal life and humanity into such a dark time, and it is just another example of the value of the work that deployed Red Crossers are doing during their deployment operations. The healing garden was also praised and enjoyed by FLOTUS Jill Biden, who planted flowers during her visit.
Gerald’s story illuminates the value of the Red Cross in regions where humanitarian aid and support are needed, and it demonstrates the inspiring qualities of our Red Cross volunteers and staff who are always willing to step up when duty calls.