Years can be counted. Timelines can be drawn. But the number of lives affected throughout the history of the American Red Cross is boundless.
Each spring, the President of the United States acknowledges the reach of the Red Cross through an official proclamation that declares March as Red Cross Month. It’s a time, Red Cross officials say, to recognize the work of current volunteers, and to encourage more community members to donate blood and become involved in the various service areas that help change lives.
“We touch lives down the street, across the country and around the world,” said Kathy Smith, Collections Director for the Western Lake Erie Region of the American Red Cross. “And it’s your support that allows us to be there every day for the millions of people who depend on us during their time of need.”
In 1881, 60-year-old Clara Barton launched the American Red Cross based on a European movement that provided relief and protection to wounded soldiers. Barton opened the first Red Cross chapter in Dansville, N.Y. and within the year, the organization responded to its first large-scale disaster in Michigan.
In 1889, the Johnstown flood called for the organization’s largest response yet, with volunteers providing food, shelter and medical care to 25,000 victims.
Now, 131 years later, the Red Cross continues to help individuals and families prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Red Cross Month celebrates the services and volunteers in areas like blood donation, disaster relief, health and safety training, and support to military members and their families. The Western Lake Erie Region is among 36 Red Cross Blood Regions nationwide, and contributes to collecting more than 6 million units of blood from about 3.5 million blood donors each year.
“Whatever way you give – be it through blood donation, volunteerism or financial contribution – you’ll feel good knowing you’re helping to change lives,” said Smith. “Without people like you, there would be no American Red Cross.”
How to donate
To schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID at the time of donation.