Monthly Archives: December 2019

By: Marta Rusek

Last night, more than 200 community members enjoyed a night of good food, fun activities, and quality time with Santa Claus at our annual Children’s Holiday Party. Held at the Philadelphia American Red Cross Blood Donation Center, this year’s festivities welcomed families who received relief and emergency shelter from the Red Cross this year after being displaced by home fires and other disasters. All of the families in attendance stayed at the Red Cross House in Philadelphia at some point this year, a facility where families can reside together as they rebuild and plan their next steps after a disaster.

The Red Cross Chapter in Philadelphia received 600 gift donations from Accenture, Arkema, Sparks, PECO Energy, Essity, Girl Scouts of Bucks County, Pansini Mezrow, ARC – Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region, and The Fresh Grocer Supermarkets to give to the children who attended. It took dedicated volunteers from PECO countless hours of their time to wrap the gifts, but it was time well-spent as the children excitedly took in the sight of wall-to-wall presents.

“This party is awesome,” said Joyce Wilkins, whose family lost their home to a house fire earlier this year. “It’s a great way to help families during this time of the year.”

Children were treated to all the delights of the season in one exciting evening, from playing games to making yuletide arts and crafts to decorating gingerbread cookies with chefs from the JNA Institute of Culinary Arts, all while enjoying the catchy Christmas tunes of a DJ. After sitting down to a delectable meal with their parents, which was graciously paid for by Morgan Properties (the macaroni and cheese earned rave reviews throughout the night), the children were thrilled to receive a visit from the one and only Santa Claus! Kids flocked to Santa to share their Christmas wishes and get their pictures taken with him. Our talented Red Cross volunteers were on-hand to photograph the memories and play Santa’s elves.

As the evening unfolded and everyone enjoyed the festivities, volunteers worked tirelessly to create an experience that helped bring joy to families that had all experienced a major loss during the year. “We’re here to offer a little bit of normalcy,” said Guy J. Triano, CEO of the American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania. “Being able to give gifts and bring holiday cheer to families who have lost everything this year makes our work worth it.” 

When the temperatures drop below freezing, the best advice is to stay indoors, but realistically there are probably things you have to do that require you to go outside. Whether it’s for your job, your commute, or work that needs to be done around your home or yard, here are a couple tips to keep you safe in the cold:

  • Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.
  • Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your chances of muscle injury.
  • Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injuries.
  • If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. About 70 percent of winter deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.
  • Bring your pets inside.

Photo Courtesy: Sue Gaur, Wallingford Elementary School

Our team at the American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania is certainly feeling the holiday spirit after receiving a donation from some very special people at Wallingford Elementary School!

This particular check came with a letter attached, where we learned the money being gifted was thanks to sweet treats, hard work, and the kind hearts in one second grade class. Teacher Sue Gaur at Wallingford Elementary wrote in part:

“We held a milk and cookie sale at our school, where the parents of WES baked cookies and staff donated the milk. My 2nd graders and I sold the milk and cookies for an hour each day for 4 days and raised a total of $3,250.”

The school decided they wanted to help those impacted by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, and that is where the funds will go. Thank you, to Ms. Gaur, her fellow teachers, her students, and students’ parents who made this donations possible!

Happy Holidays, indeed!

Emergencies can happen at any time: in the grocery store parking lot, at a family wedding, on a hot day at the community pool or even at the office and inside your very own home. But regardless of when and where they occur, emergency situations usually have one thing in common: a crowd of people standing around, staring at a victim—wondering who should act and trying to remember what to do.

That is, until a hero emerges from the crowd.

Regional CEO Guy J. Triano presents a Lifesaving Award to Kadedra Haynes from Ben Franklin High School

This week, the American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania was happy to recognize four local heroes who went above and beyond to save two lives. CEO Guy J. Triano presented the nominees with their awards at the region’s headquarters in Philadelphia on December 10.

Allison Keeports accepts her medal and Certificate of Merit from Red Cross Regional CEO, Guy J. Triano

The first incident happened on October 6, 2016. Allison Keeports, trained in American Red Cross Adult First Aid/ CPR/ AED and Nurse Assistant Training, helped to save the life of a man who had collapsed on a shuttle bus in West Chester. Shortly after the bus left the hospital the man became unconscious and slumped over in his seat. Keeports and her fellow classmates lowered the man to the floor and began chest compressions while another classmate conducted respirations.

Someone called 911 and police and an ambulance arrived within three minutes. EMS continued to provide care. The man was transported to a local hospital, treated and later released. Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of this person. For this act, Allison Keeports was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit.

Allison Keeports and her family pose with her awards alongside Regional CEO Guy J. Triano

On November 28, 2018, a student at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia experienced a cardiac emergency. The student had entered a teacher’s classroom, sat down and abruptly slumped sideways as he fell to the floor. The teacher immediately grabbed her phone to call the school nurse, Donna Santos. Santos arrived on scene and determined the student was not breathing and had no pulse. With the help of other teachers who came to help, she began performing chest compressions.

Dennis Sheedy, Donna Santos, and Kadedra Haynes pose with their awards alongside Regional CEO Guy J. Triano after being recognized for their lifesaving actions at Ben Franklin High School

Santos exclaimed for those surrounding her to call 911 and to obtain an AED. One fellow teacher grabbed the AED and ran to the classroom. Santos set up the AED and it started to assess the student as Santos performed rescue breaths. Counselor, Kadedra Haynes and athletic director Dennis Sheedy took turns applying chest compressions. The AED advised to shock, and all stood clear. The student did not respond. The AED advised staff to resume chest compressions once more. The AED shocked the student three more times before the student started to respond. Emergency Medical Responders arrived shortly after and transported the student to the hospital for further treatment. Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of this person.

For this act, Dennis Sheedy received the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders. Donna Santos and Kadedra Haynes were each awarded with the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

Know someone you’d like to nominate for a Lifesaving Award? You can find all the information about the program at

By: Kusuma Schofield

While winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, we’ve already seen snow and had our share of cold temperatures this season. Keeping a snow shovel at the ready might come in handy over what could be a long winter. Two years ago on March 21, a powerful nor’easter dropped heavy snow and caused whiteout conditions in Pennsylvania. It was the second day of spring…and the fourth nor’easter of the month. So buckle up!

Is your vehicle ready to handle everything that blows its way? Here’s a quick reminder on prepping for and dealing with a big storm, or if you have a road trip or long commute in your near future.  

1. The Hours Before 

We’ll assume you already have basic roadside emergency supplies in the trunk: jumper cables, a blanket, flashlight, tools, a scraper, flares or reflectors, extra motor oil and coolant, and a first aid kit. Throw in a portable shovel and some sand or salt. Make sure the gas tank is full—this helps prevent gas lines from freezing and keeps you going in a prolonged emergency. Got water? Batteries? For more ideas on things to include in your survival kit, visit

2. The Day of the Storm 

You hear this a lot: If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out! Why risk life, limb, and your nice car? Leave the roads open for plow crews. Stay home, turn up the heat, and make French toast. (You did buy bread, milk, and eggs, right?). If you must go out, take public transportation where possible. 

3. If You Must Drive…  

Sometimes life gets in the way and we need to be on the road, so please slow down, stay alert, and drive safely. Seatbelt on. If your cellphone rings, ignore it or pull over to answer it. Never pass a plow or salt truck. Don’t tailgate, no matter how big your SUV is—all vehicles need the same stopping distance on slick roads. Try to anticipate your stops well in advance so you can coast to a halt instead of using the brakes. This is not the day to use your cruise control, Speedy.  

4. You’re Stuck: Now What? 

Stay with your vehicle, unless you have a visual of a heated location that you can safely get to. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna and leave the overhead dome light on while the engine is running so you can be easily spotted. Last but not least, start the car every hour for 10 minutes with the heater on, while making sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow so fumes do not get into the car. 

Safe travels!