Helping those who help us

Published 11:32 pm Monday, October 31, 2011

When a fire destroys a Suffolk family’s home, they are there to provide comfort, assurance and a safe place for the family to recover.

When a tornado blew a devastating path through Suffolk in 2008, they were there, providing food, lodging, clothing, mental and physical health services and cleanup supplies.

And, more recently, when Hurricane Irene swept through Suffolk and left thousands of residents without power, they were there with a hot meal and a smile.

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When disaster strikes, Suffolkians often look to the Red Cross, and they are never turned away in their time of need. Like many things we rely on, we assume they will always be there.

When we don’t need the Red Cross, it’s easy to put its efforts out of our minds. But this vital resource can’t accomplish all the life-saving work it does without our help in return.

That’s just what Cindy Jackson, the chief executive officer of the newly-formed American Red Cross Coastal Virginia Region, has requested — help.

“What the community needs is that disaster response, the ability to donate blood, the ability to contact someone if you’re in the military and you have an emergency,” Jackson said. But what the Red Cross needs is the community’s support in return.

There are many ways for us to give back to the Red Cross. Whether you write a check, donate your time or give your blood, every little bit counts.

The best part of donating money to the Red Cross is how much of your donation goes directly to their services. Of every dollar donated to the American Red Cross, 91 cents goes to supporting the services that help anyone in need.

Another excellent way to provide monetary support is through the popular Paint the Town Red fundraiser, which is being planned for March. Jackson hopes to raise at least $30,000, she said.

But if you’ve ever felt like you’ve needed to do more, you can always join the Disaster Action Team or participate in a blood drive – whether by giving your blood or organizing a drive yourself.

Even if you have never needed the services of the Red Cross, giving now is just another part of preparing for an emergency.