Despite COVID-19, Red Cross helped more people locally compared to last year
PHILADELPHIA, December 21, 2020 — Coping with record-breaking disasters during the coronavirus pandemic, families spent more nights in emergency lodging in 2020 than any other year over the past decade.
Altogether nationwide, the Red Cross provided more than 1.3 million overnight stays with partners this year for people like Jameelah Shaw, who sought refuge after Tropical Storm Isaias caused widespread flooding in the Philadelphia area. There, Red Cross volunteers worked with her and hundreds of others to make sure they had a safe place to sleep while working on the next phase of their recovery.
“We had nowhere to go. And you guys came in, Red Cross came in, you guys put us in hotels, even with our animals. You fed us three times a day,” Shaw said about the support.
So far in 2020, the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania provided emergency assistance to more than 3,430 people displaced by those disasters within its five-county region, which includes Philadelphia and Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. That’s up from 2,863 people who received Red Cross support in this same area in 2019.
VOLUNTEERS DELIVER URGENT AID
Representing more than 90% of the workforce, volunteers are the backbone of the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. In 2020, many saw their own homes devastated by disasters — yet still answered the call to help.
This year, volunteers also quickly adapted to continue delivering help safely during COVID-19. As the pandemic escalated, most of the 70,000 people who joined our volunteer ranks nationally this year stepped up to fill mission-critical positions, such as disaster shelter and health workers, and blood donor ambassadors and transportation specialists.
In Southeastern Pennsylvania these workers:
- Responded to more than 500 disaster events
- Distributed 2,207 relief items
- Served 5,668 meals and snacks along with partners
- Made 1,707 individual disaster care contacts
This past year 153 Red Cross disaster workers from Southeastern Pennsylvania also volunteered to support major disasters locally and across the country, from hurricanes in the Gulf to wildfires in the west.
BLOOD DONATION REMAINS ESSENTIAL
In 2020, Red Cross blood drive cancellations tripled compared to the year prior — mostly due to COVID-19. Since March, over 50,000 blood drives were canceled as the pandemic forced schools, businesses and community organizations to close, impacting over 1 million blood donation appointments.
Blood donation is an essential service, and everyone’s well-being is top priority. The Red Cross follows the latest public health guidelines and has put additional precautions in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
This pandemic has also caused the Red Cross to adapt its collections to include plasma from COVID-19 survivors to potentially help those battling the virus recover. Since April, more than 35,000 COVID-19 survivors have rolled up a sleeve to donate plasma — many of whom are first-time blood donors. Their donations have enabled the Red Cross to ship about 91,000 units to hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients.
In Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Red Cross:
- Conducted 4,225 blood drives
- Welcomed 76,904 volunteer blood donors
- Collected 104,343 units of red cell blood
HOW YOU CAN HELP
As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, this continues to be a time to help one another:
- Donate: Make a symbolic gift at redcross.org/gift. A donation of any size makes a difference.
- Give blood: If you’re healthy and feeling well, your blood donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to schedule an appointment today.
- Volunteer: Review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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