American Red Cross
Northern California Coastal Region
Media Contact: Cari Dighton
Telephone: (415) 583-2949
This holiday season, donate financially or give blood to help those most vulnerable
SAN FRANCISCO, December 2, 2021 — In 2021, people in the Bay Area and across the country faced great emergency needs as the ongoing pandemic exacerbated the challenges related to severe disasters, blood shortages and global conflict.
“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” said Jennifer Adrio, Regional CEO for the Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region. “This holiday season, join us to provide help and hope in these difficult moments by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”
During the holidays, visit redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also learn about volunteer opportunities in their area and give back in honor of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, whose 200th birthday will be commemorated on December 25.
RELENTLESS DISASTERS COMPOUND COVID-19 STRUGGLES 2021 marked one of the country’s most active years for severe weather — which battered many communities still reeling from last year’s disasters. For thousands of people in need, the American Red Cross launched a new major relief effort every 11 days to provide refuge, food and care.
This year, a family displaced by a disaster in the U.S. spent an average of nearly 30 days in a Red Cross-supported emergency shelter. These extended stays were largely due to a lack of savings and community housing shortages — signs that climate-driven disasters are compounding the financial hardships of the pandemic.
Since January 1, 2021, volunteers from across the 15-county Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region have deployed 552 times, dedicating 61,930 volunteer hours to assisting neighbors across Northern California and around the country during 41 different disaster relief operations of all sizes, including wildfires in Oregon and California, and Hurricane Ida.
Tirtza Pearl of San Francisco has deployed nearly 60 times since she joined the Red Cross in 1991. Only recently, however, has she convinced her husband, Barry, to join her. Both Pearls worked in a Red Cross shelter in the Cameron Park Community Center in El Dorado County after the Caldor Fire in September. Read more about their experience here.
COVID-19 STRAINS BLOOD SUPPLY FOR PATIENTS To meet the increasing needs of hospital patients, the Red Cross distributed 250,000 more blood products in 2021 than last year, until the delta variant began to spread in August. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year — one of the largest year-to-year decreases that could threaten essential medical care for patients. Locally, the Northern California Coastal Region has experienced a 48% decrease in new blood donors this year.
As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. Blood donations are desperately needed now to meet the needs of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
GLOBAL CONFLICT CREATES MASS NEEDS FOR DISPLACED FAMILIES Around the world, massive humanitarian needs emerged in 2021 for a growing number of families displaced by the overlapping challenges of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change. This year, at the request of federal government partners, Red Cross workers from the Bay Area and across the country distributed more than 2.1 million essential items — like blankets, diapers, medicine and toys — for Afghan evacuees arriving on U.S. military bases, and unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
At the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants – many of whom were unaccompanied children – often had nothing but the clothes on their backs after facing perilous journeys. Sonoma County Red Cross volunteer Betsy Witthohn deployed to Midland, Fort Bliss and San Antonio, Texas in April 2021 to join Federal partners to provide her expertise in sheltering, feeding and caring for those in need. Witthohn formed part of the Technical Assistance Team and spent over three weeks on assignment.
“I was privileged to deploy with several other Northern California Coastal Region responders,” Witthohn said. “Our Federal partners were very grateful for our contribution, and it was amazing to get to work with both the boys and the girls as they were on their long journeys north.”
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have long delivered humanitarian relief to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers around the world — that is part of the fundamental mission of the Red Cross — to help those in need.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.