A $20,000 donation made by Blue Cross of Idaho is helping the American Red Cross deliver help and hope to families impacted by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.
Half of that gift is helping cover the costs of deploying seven Red Cross volunteers to the Gulf Coast to support those reeling from Hurricane Michael. Red Cross volunteers provide medical, spiritual and mental health care; manage warehouse logistics; and keep families fed and sheltered.
The remaining $10,000 will be used to support the deployment of the Red Cross of Greater Idaho’s new emergency response vehicle to South Carolina following Hurricane Florence. Two Idaho volunteers -- Diana Ochsner, of Jerome, and Don Nesbitt, of Mountain Home -- drove the vehicle more than 2,500 miles across the country to the Columbia area, where it delivered food and supplies, often to families cut off from other services.
“Giving back is one of the core values of Blue Cross of Idaho, and our donation is a reflection of that belief,” said Dave Jeppesen, executive vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer for Blue Cross of Idaho. “Natural disasters touch all Americans from coast to coast, and it is important to help those in an unimaginable situation. We’re proud to partner with the American Red Cross again so its volunteers can begin to rebuild communities devastated by hurricanes Florence and Michael.”
The Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana has deployed more than 50 volunteers and staff to places like Winston, N.C., Florence, S.C., and Tallahassee, Fla., since mid-September in response to these two devastating storms. More are expected to go out the door.
In all, the American Red Cross and its partners have provided 162,200 overnight stays, served 3.5 million meals and snacks and handed out 810,000 relief items like clean-up kits, rakes, shovels and garbage bags.
“I tell people I can’t give back as much as I get back,” Nesbitt said after returning to Idaho. “I get so much of a blessing in being able to help and do this.”
Blue Cross also plays a key role in helping the Red Cross keep hospital shelves stocked with life-saving blood. Since 2001, 76 Blue Cross blood drives have collected 2,242 units of blood. Considering each unit can save up to three people, these Blue Cross drives have saved as many 6,700 lives. These efforts are especially important now, as hurricanes Florence and Michael have led to the cancelation of more than 250 blood drives.
Whether it’s helping families across the country recover from disaster or providing life-saving blood closer to home, Blue Cross of Idaho is an invaluable Red Cross partner.
"We are so grateful to Blue Cross of Idaho for this generous donation," said Nicole Sirak Irwin, president and CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana. "When I deployed to Hurricane Florence, I saw firsthand the incredible needs of people who lost everything. Donations like this help us get the right resources to the right places. We couldn't do our lifesaving work without partners like Blue Cross of Idaho."