Red Cross Launches Holiday Fund-raising Campaign

The holiday season is just around the corner, and this year the American Red Cross is urging people to give something that means something — by donating to the Red Cross and helping those in need.

The Red Cross has launched a holiday fund-raising campaign, asking everyone to visit to make a donation in the name of the people on their gift list this year. Their donation can help provide food and shelter to a victim of disaster, purchase things like phone cards and supplies for a member of the armed forces, or supply basic necessities to families in desperate need in countries across the world.

Everyone is invited to browse through the Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog and view symbolic gifts they can ‘purchase’ for, or in honor of, a loved one — things like infant-care kits for babies in emergency shelters, comfort kits for wounded warriors, or water containers used when natural disasters disrupt a community’s water supply overseas.

“People tend to buy a lot of ‘stuff’ around the holidays,” said Dawn Leaks, director of Communications and Special Events at the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter. “This year we are asking people to give a gift that means something in the spirit of the holiday season. Their donation can help save the day when fire destroys a neighbor’s house, when a patient needs blood, or when a member of the military has a family emergency back home.”

In the past four months, the chapter has provided assistance to more than 50 people in response to 20 house fires, and run major disaster relief operations in response to the June 1 tornadoes and Hurricane Irene. In tornado response alone, the Red Cross provided more than 5,000 overnight stays, in excess of 27,000 meals, and more than 40,000 cleanup, bulk-distribution, and comfort items to victims of the storm.

Fiscal year 2011 was a busy one for the Red Cross. Chapters responded to more than 68,000 disasters across the country, including the launch of major relief operations for wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres, tornadoes that destroyed entire towns, and flooding that left communities underwater from the Dakotas to the East Coast.

Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces workers provided assistance to more than 386,000 members of the military and their families, veterans, and civilians. Red Cross Blood Services distributed more than 9 million blood products for patients in nearly 3,000 hospitals across the U.S. The Red Cross enrolled more than 8.2 million people in health and safety training such as first aid and CPR, aquatics, and water safety. As part of the global Red Cross network in more than 180 countries around the world, the organization responded to disasters and public-health emergencies in more than 60 countries.

“The country’s ongoing economic problems are causing more people to seek help from the Red Cross and other organizations at a time when it’s generally much more difficult to raise money,” Leaks said. “These are difficult times for families and businesses across our nation, but we ask that people support the Red Cross and the help its programs provide during the holidays this year.”

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