Support those who support

Published 8:48 pm Monday, October 26, 2009

Headed into the most active and worrisome time of year for firefighters, Suffolk’s own emergency workers have been especially busy during the past month.

A fire on St. James Avenue that started in a vacant home spread to two others, destroying two of the three buildings and displacing two families. And this weekend brought news that two different apartment fires that had started in exterior sheds resulted in a total of 18 people — including 13 children — losing their homes and property.

There have been no injuries or deaths as a result of any of the fires plaguing the city in recent weeks, a singular fact which helps to limit their description to words like “devastating,” instead of “tragic.”

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Still, losing everything including the place one’s family calls home is the kind of blow that many cannot bear alone.

Enter the Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross, which stepped in to help victims of each of the recent fires find temporary housing, food and clothing. The organization is well known around Suffolk for its assistance following the devastating tornados that ripped through parts of the city in spring 2008.

The Red Cross is one of a group of area organizations whose purpose is to provide vital support to Suffolk residents in times of emergency, disaster or great need. Their work helps families and society remain glued together during times of crisis, and as such they are a crucial part of the social fabric.

Recognizing the importance such groups have in the community, the United Way of South Hampton Roads includes a wide variety of them in its list of certified agencies for 2009. Through the United Way, area residents can support the Red Cross; the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia; homeless, family and domestic violence shelters; the Salvation Army; Meals on Wheels; and a variety of other agencies whose missions are to serve and protect downtrodden, destitute and dispirited members of our society.

The United Way is in the midst of its annual fundraising campaign, and there’s no time like the present to make your gift and — through that gift — make an impact on your community. For more information, call 853-8500 or visit