Red Cross volunteers always there to help victims of disasters
by Don McKee
Columnist
October 31, 2012 12:42 AM | 2269 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
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The website of the Red Cross opens with this message: “Are you in need of immediate assistance? The American Red Cross is here to help.”

And it is. And once again in the aftermath of a huge national disaster – superstorm Sandy – Red Cross volunteers have responded in large numbers from all over the country. A contingent of 60 Georgia Red Cross volunteers with emergency vehicles have been deployed in the areas hammered by the massive ocean surges triggered by the hurricane, Jeff Taylor, executive director of the East Georgia Chapter of the Red Cross, told the Athens Banner-Herald.

From Marietta, the volunteers included Joe and Glenda Mertes, a husband-wife team that’s been giving of themselves to help disaster victims for the past six years. “It’s just something to give back,” said Joe. “We’re retired now, and what can be more enjoyable than helping people out?”

Now that’s the attitude that makes this country great, the cherished tradition of neighbor helping neighbor – and in this case it’s the biblical definition of “neighbor,” meaning whoever is in need whether next door or in a far away community. That, in essence, is what the Red Cross is all about, a nonprofit, mostly volunteer organization that depends on the good will of Americans.

“After a disaster, communities and families turn to the American Red Cross for help – and we stand ready to provide comfort and care – free of charge,” the Red Cross assures on its website. This means providing safe shelter, hot meals, essential relief supplies as well as emotional support.

And that is illustrated by a Red Cross disaster volunteer, nicknamed “Safety Sue” Marticek, who found herself serving as dorm manager for more than 340 residents in the evacuation shelter in Toms River, N.J. This veteran of half a dozen major disasters and many local explains. “I just tell them that we’re all in this together and we’re going to get through it,” she said. “When they see the Red Cross, they feel like they’re going to be okay.”

Not knowing if loved ones are safe is one of the worst things for those not in the storm-hit areas. The Red Cross has a “Safe and Well” service that enables relatives to search for family members through a link to names of those who have registered for the benefit of loved ones who cannot be contacted because of power outages and other reasons.

So what can you and I do to help?

“The most critical help that is needed at this point is financial to cover the cost for all the shelters, clean-up kits, shovels, you name it,” said Jeff Taylor, the East Georgia Red Cross executive.

If you want to donate, go to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org. Of course, you may have other ways of helping the disaster victims. But if not, give to the Red Cross, and help along with all the selfless volunteers like “Safety Sue,” who tells disaster victims, “We’re all in this together and we’re going to get through it.” Amen.

dmckee9613@aol.com
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October 31, 2012
Please note: The American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans' salary for 2011 was $951,957 plus expenses.
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