PRINCETON — The Bureau County Red Cross had a busy 2011-12 fiscal year, assisting 27 area families in emergency situations, responding to 15 fires since July, supporting 208 first responders, and sheltering 55 individuals following the Tiskilwa train derailment.
On top of that, the Bureau County Red Cross assisted nine military families and trained 976 people in lifesaving skills during the last fiscal year. Also, local residents donated 1,026 units of blood through Red Cross blood drives.
By the end of the current fiscal year, the local Red Cross office expects to have another 1,000 people trained in lifesaving skills and another 1,100 units of blood collected, Bureau County Red Cross Director Lori Compton said.
In recognition of all the work done by the American Red Cross nationwide, March has been proclaimed as Red Cross Month by President Barack Obama, with a special emphasis this year on the “everyday heroes” who give of themselves and in some way help their community.
Compton said she will have an appreciation dinner at the end of the month to honor the local Red Cross volunteers and is also planning an open house for people to learn more about the Red Cross services and volunteer opportunities.
Compton encouraged area residents to take time this month to remember the services of the Red Cross and all the volunteers who make those services happen.
“Please remember those who help all of us here in Bureau County by giving their time to help their neighbor,” Compton said. “We want to thank our heroes during Red Cross Month, our volunteers, blood donors, class takers and financial supporters who help us assist those in need.”
One area resident who has a special appreciation for the Red Cross is Bev Larson of Princeton.
When her now-grown son Daniel was due to be born, her husband, Clark, was stationed in a remote area of Alaska. Living at the time at the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Bev came home to Princeton to be with her folks when the baby was born. Bev contacted the Red Cross to ask the agency to notify her husband whenever their baby came. When Daniel was born, the Red Cross was able to send a teletype message to her husband telling of his son’s birth. A letter would have taken at least a week or 10 days to reach him, she said.
“We were very grateful that they were able to get a message to Clark,” Bev said. “People don’t always think about the assistance the Red Cross gives to military families, but it’s important, and we really appreciated it.”
The American Red Cross is synonymous with helping people, and has been doing so for more than 130 years, Compton said.
Nationally, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year in this country, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. The Red Cross provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families, collects and distributes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains more than seven million people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.
Again, Compton encouraged Bureau County residents to learn about the services of the Red Cross, to show appreciation for its many volunteers and to consider becoming a volunteer themselves.
“Red Cross Month is a great time for people to become part of the Red Cross, and there are many different ways to do it,” Compton said. “They can develop a preparedness plan for their household, become a Red Cross volunteer, give blood, or take a Red Cross class, just to name a few.”
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