Monthly Archives: January 2020

By: Alana Mauger

For members of the Nitschmann Middle School community, donating blood is personal. Two of the school’s long-time teachers, Lara Ellis and Dawn Mendez, are both battling cancer and have received blood transfusions as part of their treatments.

When a loved one is battling cancer, donating blood or platelets is a meaningful way to show your support. In fact, cancer patients use nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply and need more blood than patients fighting any other disease.

While too young to donate blood themselves, students in seventh grade teacher Gayle McLaughlin’s service club organized the school’s first-ever American Red Cross blood drive on Jan. 24 in honor of Ellis, a librarian, and Mendez, a gifted support teacher. The drive collected 63 units of blood – more than 50% over its goal – and raised awareness about the importance of having blood products available for patients who need it.  

While Ellis and Mendez could not attend the drive, Dr. Peter Mayes, Nitschmann’s principal, texted them photos while he gave a Power Red donation.

“It’s emotional for them, and it’s emotional for us to support them,” he shared from the donation chair. “It feels like they’re a part of us every day, but today was an opportunity to do something a little more public.”

Approximately 80% of blood donated through the Red Cross comes from blood drives hosted by volunteer blood program leaders like Nitschmann Middle School, and new blood drive sponsors are always needed to ensure hospitals in the Lehigh Valley and across the region have an adequate supply of all blood types on hand.

Give a lifesaving gift

You can schedule an appointment to donate today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the blood donor skill on any Alexa Echo device by saying, “Alexa, find a blood drive.” To speed up the donation process, you can also complete a RapidPass® online health history questionnaire on the day of your donation at on mobile devices.

By: AJ Suero

AJ Suero is a communications manager at the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region, currently assisting with the earthquake relief effort in Puerto Rico.

January 15, 2020. Guánica, Puerto Rico. American Red Cross member AJ Suero observes damage to homes impacted by earthquakes in the town of Guánica. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Last week I met a man whose home was destroyed by an earthquake back on January 11th. His son would be turning five in just a couple of days and amidst the devastation he still wanted to make the day special. He and his wife decided to move forward with a birthday celebration in spite of the loss that they had just suffered, and they decided to take the family camping to a nearby hill, where they cut his birthday cake. The young boy thanked him for a “special camping birthday,” not realizing that the tent would now become their new temporary home.

There have been so many other interactions, so many faces and a lot of devastation – each one as heartbreaking as the last. As a member of our Public Affairs team, my job is to help tell the story of what is happening through images, videos and stories.

Many on the island are so worried about adjusting to their new day-to-day reality, and yet their struggles are unknown to many. For many of us, home is a refuge; a place of solace where we can escape from all of the dangers of the world. The people of Guayanilla, Yauco, Guánica and other surrounding areas now fear going home due to the ongoing aftershocks that are felt multiple times every single day.

January 15, 2020. Guánica, Puerto Rico. Pista Complejo Deportivo Edilberto Cruz. American Red Cross member AJ Suero distributes a Red Cross comfort kit to shelter resident. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Some have completely lost their homes due to destruction, others are not able to return because the structure has been deemed unsafe, but many have lost the sense of home because they fear that the next tremor may be the big one. Many are sleeping in camp cities – locations such as stadiums, parks and large open areas.

The needs are great, and the Red Cross will continue to serve these affected communities for the weeks and months to come.

January 16, 2020. San Germán, Puerto Rico. American Red Cross member AJ Suero enjoys an imaginary tea visit with 3-year-old Mijah at the shelter in San Germán. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

For more on the relief effort and how to help, visit:

By: David Haas

What is your longstanding Thanksgiving tradition? Do you huff and puff through an early morning turkey trot, or cheer for your favorite football teams all afternoon?  My family gathers each Thanksgiving Thursday to eat a hearty dinner, in preparation for donating blood to the Red Cross on Friday morning. It’s an appointment that’s built into schedules every year, but unfortunately, that’s not the case for most people.

Only about three percent of Americans give blood each year. In December, many people are distracted by shopping, parties, the holidays, even weather, causing donations to drop off when the need in greatest. This can lead to blood shortages in January.

If you’ve never given blood, you may be nervous at first, but the long-lasting feeling, will be one of thankfulness and pleasure at knowing you’ve helped others.  The kindness and attention you will receive from donation center staff and volunteers reinforces the good feeling.

And right now, donating is a win-win! Let me explain, the donated blood can help save up to three lives, which is a win for the recipients, but there’s more! The Red Cross has teamed up with the NFL to offer one lucky winner two tickets to Super Bowl LIV, entry to the official NFL Tailgate, tickets to Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center, round-trip airfare to Miami, three-night hotel accommodations at The Alexander® – All Suite Oceanfront Resort (Jan. 31 to Feb. 3), and more! Details here:

Just come to give January 1-19, 2020, and you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win. Make your appointment here:

But wait, there’s another sweet incentive for the fine blood donors of the Greater Philadelphia area! Throughout January, presenting donors will receive a voucher for a free medium Hot Coffee and a free classic donut, redeemable at participating Dunkin’ restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia Region, while supplies last. The vouchers are not redeemable for cash.

For more information, and to schedule your holiday donation at a nearby blood center, please visit

Home fires claim seven lives every day, but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half. That’s why the American Red Cross is rallying 27,000 volunteers to install 100,000 free smoke alarms nationwide during Sound the Alarm, Save a Life events. This spring, we’ll install free smoke alarms, share safety information in at-risk communities and fundraise to help families prepare for, respond to, and recover from home fires. 

If you’re passionate about community safety and want to make a real difference in a hands-on way, these events are perfect for you!

The Eastern Pennsylvania Region is hosting Sound the Alarm in four locations this year and signing up is easy! Just head to! You can even put in your zip code, and all the events withing a 100 mile radius will pop up!

Here are the locations and dates within the Eastern Pennsylvania Region:

April 25 – Allentown

May 1 – Philadelphia

May 2 – Reading

May 2 – Bristol

So grab your families, friends, colleagues, and head to!

Here’s a recap from last year’s campaign:

Note: Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many of these events are being postponed due to precautions in line with local and federal safety guidelines.

We’re starting off a new decade with a packed calendar! Whether you’re in the Pocono Mountains, Philadelphia, or anywhere in between, we hope you can join us for our fundraising events! We’re gearing up for a black tie charity gala, golf tournament, marathon, and so much more!

January 15, 2020 – Pocono Heroes Celebration

Awards brunch honoring Pocono local heroes

 Location: Shawnee Inn, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

March 28, 2020 – Red Ball

Gala featuring dancing, auction and tastings from Philadelphia area restaurants and breweries

Location: Vie Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. – Midnight

April 17, 2020 – Lehigh Valley-Bucks Cabaret 

1920s themed fundraising dinner/dance

Location: Olympus, Centre Valley, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

May 14, 2020 – Berks County Heroes Breakfast        

Breakfast and awards ceremony

Location: Crowne Plaza, Wyomissing, 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

May 17, 2020 – Run for the Red Pocono Marathon     

Annual Marathon and half marathon

Location: Stroudsburg HS, 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

June 9, 2020 – Red Cross Cup – SEPA Golf Tournament

A golf tournament and lunch with silent auction

Location:  The ACE Club, Lafeyette Hill, 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

June 19, 2020 – Bucks County Heroes Breakfast

Breakfast and awards ceremony

Location: PARX Casino, Bensalem, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.