By Rowan Wolf
As 2011 closes, I would appreciate your considering throwing a few bucks to the Red Cross. They are a worthy organization, and they are being called on more an more frequently – here and abroad – to meet the emergency needs following disasters. As the economy has hit the crapper, so too have donations decreased for the Red Cross.
In 2011 ALONE, the American Red Cross responded to 137 major operations in 46 states. They also provided relief to Japan following the tsunami, and the earthquake in Haiti. Across the large scale disasters, the Red Cross sent out 27,622 volunteers; set up 1,019 emergency shelters, and served 6.7 MILLION meals and snacks. Meanwhile, in Canada, the Canadian Red Cross delivered aid to the First Nation Attawapiskat who are starving deplorable conditions in northern Ontario.
Where there is a major need, that is where the Red Cross goes. They operate on a triage basis. Those who are most in need receive aid – regardless of who you are. There is no politics or prejudice – just critical service – in war, disaster, and in our communities. In many ways, the Red Cross is us, from volunteers to blood banks (half of the US blood supply comes from donations to the Red Cross). It is also us through our financial contributions.
Over the past decade as the economy has contracted and the contributions with them, the Red Cross has been forced to go through a number of restructurings – the nice term for cutting staff and reorganizing. So fewer and fewer staff have taken on more and more responsibility. These are amazing people who are committed to the vision of the founder of the Red Cross – Clara Barton – to be of service to those who are suffering. In this time when the need continues to grow, the Red Cross should be growing – not shrinking.
There are many worthy organizations (and I contribute to a bevy of ones I think are important), but the Red Cross is truly a great organization because both here and around the world, it is very much us. I know that I assumed that the Red Cross must get considerable funding from our tax dollars because they are everywhere doing highly necessary service, but they don’t. They get some grants for specific projects from local, state, and federal government, but most of their funding comes from donations and through the United Way.
So if you can, please consider pitching in – a few bucks, a few minutes, or a few drops of your blood.