VOLUNTEER AT FIRE: Gretchen Haugh, a Red Cross disaster volunteer, arrives at the scene of an apartment fire.
Everybody knows about the American Red Cross because of blood collection and disaster relief after large-scale disasters, such as the Picher tornado.
But did you know that the Red Cross also responds to smaller disasters, especially house and apartment fires? For those families who have lost all their belongings, the situation is just as serious as a large-scale disaster.
Last year, the Tulsa Area Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to 908 fires in its 18-county region. This year, Red Cross fire responses are up 13 percent compared to the same time last year.
Red Cross volunteers are trained to interview families, find out what their immediate needs are and fill those needs. Volunteers activate a debit card so that the families can go to the store of their choice to buy food, clothes and other necessities.
If they need a place to stay, the Red Cross provides them a few nights at a local hotel. Also, the Red Cross can provide new eyeglasses and prescription refills if they were destroyed in the fire.
All this work requires the time of more than 700 dedicated disaster volunteers. It also takes financial donations from the rest of us. We give because we realize that a disaster can strike any of us at any time, and we know that the Red Cross will be there to help us, too.
The three ways we can all help the Red Cross are to give blood, give money and give your time as a volunteer.
For more information, call the Red Cross at 831-1100.