Red Cross continuing to give comfort to Suffolkians in need

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Programs offered by the American Red Cross are wide-ranging, touching the lives of young and old throughout neighborhoods across the country. Last year, Red Cross chapter Community Services provided almost 22 million services to individuals.

In Suffolk alone, during the fiscal year 2001-2002, the latest statistics available, the Suffolk Chapter of Red Cross provided services to American Armed Forces, disaster services, health services and community services.

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Faye G. Byrum, executive director of the Suffolk Chapter, said 45 families received assistance in the form of food, lodging, clothing and other basic needs to resume their normal living following some type of disaster like a home fire.

&uot;More than $38,723 was granted directly to the families,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;Also, we supported the efforts of the 9-11 response.&uot;

Red Cross-Suffolk also trained 187 volunteers to respond to disaster incidents, and we provided 10,525 pieces of Community Disaster Education material was distributed at presentations, fairs, displays, and by other means.

&uot;We also provided 318 different services to 123 military families including emergency communications, counseling, financial transmittals, and 298 military families received information through the &uot;Get to Know Us&uot; outreach program,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;We also organized Youth Corps in Lakeland High School.&uot;

Known well for their CPR training, the Red Cross Suffolk trained 107 volunteer instructors, trained 1,538 persons in first aid, CPR, water safety, babysitting, and HIV/AIDS Education.

The Suffolk Chapter also provided health screenings such as blood pressure checks at 16 locations, checking 654 people.

Most well known as the &uot;Blood&uot; people, the Suffolk Chapter collected 1,982 units, or 110.1 percent of goal, of blood at 82 blood drives. Of course, the Red Cross &uot;Bloodhound&uot; was on site in many of the events.

One full-time and two part-time staff members support the efforts of 517 dedicated volunteers to provide services in Suffolk.

The Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross was established in 1917. It is not a government agency and they rely on the generous contributions of the people of Suffolk and the special events to support the work of Red Cross. Of course, all monetary contributions are appreciated.

Byrum also wanted to caution people about a cruel hoax being inflicted upon the families of deployed service members.

&uot;We have had instances of where family members of military service personnel have received phone calls from individuals claiming to be a representative of the Red Cross,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;Callers told these families that their deployed service member was missing in Action and then they proceeded to ask for money to be able to follow up on that person.&uot;

&uot;When someone is missing, wounded or killed, the U.S. military-not the American Red Cross- is the organization that notifies families,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;This type of notification is almost always done in person by military casualty officials.&uot;

Byrum said the Red Cross is asking that families or individuals who receive these hoax calls to immediately call their local military liaison, and also call the Red Cross at 800-309-9679, so that the Red Cross can relay the information to the appropriate authorities.