Red Cross: Touching countless lives

Published 8:48 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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.

When a fire destroyed a Suffolk family’s home last Sunday, they were there to provide assistance for the family of seven that was displaced. They’ve been there multiple times this year, for many different families coping with the loss of homes or valuables.

And when an injured person desperately needing blood is able to receive that gift of life, it was likely due to the work of the American Red Cross.

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From blood drives to disaster response teams, the Red Cross has touched countless lives in the region and all around the world. And that’s the message the Coastal Virginia Region of the American Red Cross hopes to relay with a new art project in Western Tidewater.

For two weeks, an otherwise blank canvas with a red cross will make the rounds in the area. Those who have been affected by the Red Cross will be invited to put their fingerprints on it and share their stories.

At the end of the tour, the best stories will be collected and added to the artwork.

It will be a powerful piece. Knowing all the ways we’ve all been touched by the Red Cross, I can only assume the piece will be packed with fingerprints and it will be difficult for the “best stories” to be chosen out of so many.

Beyond life-saving blood, warm meals and shelter, the Red Cross provides those they help with “just a sense of normalcy,” said Patrick Belcher, the interim executive director for the region. And sometimes that can make all the difference for victims of disaster.

The artwork is a praiseworthy way of visually representing the Red Cross’s good work.

Beyond that, the piece will be up for auction during the Paint the Town Red fundraiser. The event, set for March 2, will help give the Red Cross the ability to continue helping those in need in the area. If you have ever been helped by the Red Cross or know someone who has — I’m willing to bet we all have some connection with the organization — consider getting tickets for the event.

We never know what calamity life may bring, and it could be your contribution that later saves the life of your loved ones.