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Red Cross commended, activities reviewed

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
The Elizabeth H. Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross coordinated the service of some 2,200 meals to visiting fire and emergency workers who stayed more than a week after the Salisbury Millwork Fire.
More than 50 businesses, churches and organizations donated food for the meals.
“We’re very proud of what they did,” Local Red Cross Executive Director Steve Simpson said of the entities that stepped up and helped.
The Red Cross also provided transportation and counseling services after the fire. The Charlotte Red Cross chapter assisted with two mental health counselors and an emergency vehicle.
Simpson reviewed many of the American Red Cross’ activities for Salisbury City Council recently.
Simpson said he wasn’t before council to ask for money. Rather, “You all need to know what we do,” he said.
To date in 2008, the Red Cross has responded to 24 home fires in Rowan County, assisting 81 clients in finding clothing, food and lodging at a cost of more than $12,500.
The local chapter also has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to purchase and store enough food and water to provide for at least 100 people for five days, in case of another large emergency event.
Simpson said the Red Cross is working to create a Rowan County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster group and training and coordinating with chapters in nearby counties to help with mutual aid in the future.
Last year, the Red Cross responded to 68 local disasters, mainly home fires. It assisted 66 families (234 people) and dispensed more than $34,000 in aid.
In other 2007 accomplishments, the local chapter:
– Sent 10 chapter staff members and volunteers to work in U.S. disasters elsewhere, such as the California wildfires.
Other locations included Oregon, Michigan and Illinois, Simpson said.
– Obtained agreements for and certified 20 mass shelters. Simpson said a goal is to be able to shelter 10 percent of the county’s population in case of a significant emergency.
“We’re nowhere near that,” he said.
– Opened two shelters during the summer heat wave.
– Trained 686 people in disaster preparedness.
– Assisted 71 military members, veterans and their families.
– Made 17 health and welfare inquiries.
– Taught 463 health and safety classes and certified 1,834 trainees.
– Conducted 188 blood drives and collected 7,061 units ó a record year.
– Utilized 6,058 volunteer hours in all service areas.
Simpson said goals for the chapter are to recruit and train more volunteers for disaster services, increase the blood donor base by 10 percent, identify and certify additional mass shelters and re-establish the Youth in Action program.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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