Monthly Archives: October 2012

With so much chatter on the web dedicated to fashion, it is time for Southeastern PA Red Cross to get in the game as it were.

A short and informative visit to our national website reminded this writer of a fantastic shopping opportunity open to the public at our own Red Cross Store.  Need an incredibly stylish weather radio shaped like a cross in bright red? This is your place.  It even has a USB charger outlet. Bring it, Red Cross!

Prefer the hand crank version? I know I do. It seems like every disaster I’ve been a part of has always involved the loss of electrical power and missing or dead batteries. Check out this super cool item.

Other hip items include this sleek water bottle – a must for any emergency kit.


I love its tall, thin grey design with our bright red symbol sitting an inch or two from the base in its white circle. This bottle lets everyone know you are serious about hydration during an actual disaster or one you create for yourself, like that 10K you weren’t really prepared to run on a warm day.

To my mind, the best items on offer at the Red Cross Store are in the apparel section. Check out this Vintage Red Cross Tee. Does it get any more “classic” than these?


Who doesn’t have his or her eye on the red one? Although, looking again, the gray one is extremely chic.

There’s also a great baseball hat that I’m planning to purchase for my brother, who is a big proponent of the” baseball cap as cover for no morning shower” technique.

The best part of shopping at the Red Cross store is that a portion of the sale of these items goes to support the mission of the Red Cross.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that wearing this apparel will not only have you looking stylish and socially concerned but also capable of assistance to others. If you are going to rock that red tee, you may also want to sign up for those First Aid classes you’d always meant to take.

This, my fashion forward friends, is the ultimate benefit to shopping at the Red Cross Store: fulfilling your potential to be of service to others in need. Everyone should be prepared to help in an emergency.

It was early (for a Saturday at least) when I got the call from Dave asking me to come to the shelter. He had been there all night and had fatherly duties he needed to fulfill. I was a little nervous as I had never been to an active shelter response and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I got ready I scrolled through the Twitter feed that Dave had updated throughout the night. I had no idea the fire had affected so many people and it was just up the road from where I lived! Dave came out to meet me when I arrived at the shelter and updated me on the situation. Several of the displaced residents had found friends or family but around 20 remained. My job was to serve as the contact person if reporters wanted to interview a volunteer or client covering the Wyncote fire. I was also responsible for getting any new updates out to the public.

I ended up doing so much more than that.

Since it was my first time and I was hobbling around on crutches due to a fractured foot (from a sports injury) I wasn’t sure I would be able to help very much but I soon discovered that the Red Cross provides so much more than basic necessities. It provides human comfort and compassion in the face of disaster.

While I waited to hear back from a reporter I started to talk with another volunteer, Greg. We got on the subject of basketball, which as a Dallas Mavericks fan I was happy to commiserate with an equally disappointed Sixers fan. As we chatted, one of the residents joined in the conversation. We talked about our favorite players and moved on to football and he told us about his favorite teams and players. Our conversation turned to our families and he told us about his new granddaughter. Then he stopped and said that he wished he could show us pictures but they were all on the new smart phone his son had given him which he lost in the fire.

I reminded him that the great thing about living in this day and age is that cherished photos on cell phones are digital and can be retrieved. He agreed and told us that talking with us had allowed him, briefly, to forget about everything he had lost. He told us that the fire had started from his apartment and you could see the pain in his face as he relived the events of the night before.

I quickly changed the subject and Greg and the resident told me about their favorite Philadelphia stores growing up.

It was during that conversation I realized that what volunteers provide, more than a warm meal or a cot and blanket is compassion. Losses in a fire can be devastating and the Red Cross provides support. We reach out to someone who is suffering and ease their worries, remind them of what they still have and help them keep going. The ability to reach out to someone who is suffering and maybe for a time, ease their worries and remind them of all the things they have not lost and to keep going.

Although October may be the month of haunted houses and horror movies, there is one “scare” we never want: fire. The combination of Halloween décor and dry autumn weather makes October the perfect time for Fire Safety Month. Here are some tips to keep your home and family safe this season:

  • Keep the Halloween jack-o-lantern tradition alive, but forgo any actual flames. Using candles in jack-o-lanterns is a huge hazard, and easily avoided by using flashlights or battery operated lights.
  • Also, be cautious in your placement of jack-o-lanterns or other luminaries. Having a well lit pathway is nice, but the close proximity of flames to high-traffic areas is not.
  • Corn stalks or hay bales should be placed far from any flames or heat sources, as they are highly flammable. Remember, light bulbs give off heat and should never be draped with fabric, etc.
  • Whether your trick-or-treater wants to be Thor or a kitty cat, be sure the costume is flame-retardant. Rayon, acrylic and cotton/polyester blends are the most flammable fabrics.
  • How are your smoke detectors? Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries is right around the corner (November 4), but it never hurts to double check the batteries in your home.
  • It’s getting colder out there. If you’re digging out space heaters or opening up the chimney, be sure to take preventative measures. Sweep your chimney, install a fire guard and keep heaters away from flammable materials.
  • Not only are there precautions for inside your home, but outside, too. Clear your roof and gutters of debris buildup, such as pine needles and leaves, and learn the outdoor burning regulations in your area. Burning leaves and other outdoor debris (illegal or not) can be very risky.