Red Cross and partners operate Philadelphia shelter following partial building collapse

By Jenny Farley

American Red Cross shelter sign at Samuel Fels High School. Photo by Jenny Finley/American Red Cross
Brenda Caple. Photo by Jenny Farley/American Red Cross.

Brenda Caple knew exactly what she was planning to cook for dinner. A steak she and her husband could enjoy together. But she lacked an onion and green pepper so she went out. She made it back safely to her apartment at Lindley Towers and was thinking about that steak when she said, “I heard a loud BOOM!”

When she looked out the window, destruction shocked her. She thought, “Lord, I just left from there. I had just walked past coming from the store.”

After living at her apartment complex for ten months, Caple was forced to evacuate, along with her sister and niece, who lived on different floors. Pieces of the Lindley Towers facade, an apartment building with 105 units, had crashed to the ground below.

John D. Smith. Photo by Jenny Farley/America Red Cross

Navy veteran John D. Smith, who has lived at Lindley Towers since 2015, left his seventh floor apartment that morning at 7:30 am. At 82 years old, he spent the day at the Senior Center when someone said, “I heard a building fell down on your block.” Smith said, “It never dawned on me it was my building.”

When he got home that night he said the fire department had kicked down his door during the evacuation and he had only minutes to collect his stuff while authorities waited in the hall.

“I couldn’t think of what to take.”

When something caused part of Lindley Towers to fall, Gail Thomas didn’t hear a thing. For nearly ten years she has enjoyed the quiet in her fourth floor apartment. She had no intention of leaving. “Then I heard people banging on doors.”

Gail Thomas. Photo by Jenny Farley/America Red Cross.

That morning Thomas was getting ready to do her online classes but they would have to wait. “I’m frustrated, aggravated, upset and angry.” Thomas suffers from excruciating daily migraine pain. She said being forced out of her home is the worst thing that has ever happened to her.

“It’s devastating.”

They lived on different floors. They all had other plans. But what happened at Lindley Towers on September 14th thrust all three people, and dozens like them, into the same river of uncertainty. Unable to go home, no time to grab much and in need of immediate refuge.

Red Cross volunteers Neena Nash, Shelter Supervisor Hal Cohen and Mass Care Feeding Lead Janice Thomas with Red Cross Regional CEO Guy Triano. Photo by Alana Mauger/American Red Cross

That’s when the Red Cross stepped in, partnering with the Office of Emergency Management, to open a shelter in the gym at Samuel Fels High School in Philadelphia.

Volunteer Betty Thomas. Photo by Jenny Farley/American Red Cross.

Volunteers like Rick Tashman and Betty Thomas worked together there to make sure tower residents got what they needed. Food, blankets, a cot and emotional support.

Thomas has been training for the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT). She said she enjoys volunteering and “Being part of society. Helping people.” And it’s not her first stint with the Red Cross. She used to deliver plasma long distances to hospitals and cancer centers.

Her two young daughters, Kayla and Eve, want to volunteer too as soon as they are old enough. They already help by making sandwiches to feed people who are homeless.

Shelter Supervisor Rick Tashman. Photo by Jenny Farley/American Red Cross.

For 25 years, Tashman dreamed of volunteering for the Red Cross, but he had a lot of time commitments. Now, he serves as a shelter supervisor in the very school he attended as a child.

An amateur ham radio operator, Tashman calls himself an “electronics nut” who has a personal philosophy to “look for the opportunity to do something magical” and said he feels blessed to be able to “make a little bit of difference.”

For Caple, it’s not little. She said the Red Cross has given her a good experience at the shelter and treated her well.

“Very nice. Generous people. Everyone is respectful.”

She said she’s okay for now. And she’s praying for a good outcome.

“At least I have a roof over my head.”

Volunteers Daramola Gbolahan and Rahel Pachter serve lunch at the shelter on Sunday, Sept. 18.
Photo by Alana Mauger / American Red Cross

Smith is also grateful.

“They helped an awful lot because I would have been homeless. If it hadn’t been for the Red Cross, I would have been on the street.”

Gail Thomas also appreciated the treatment she received at the shelter. “Got socks, food.” Volunteers even turned the music down to help her head.

Every eight minutes, The Red Cross responds to a disaster and is ready to leap into action 24/7. Shelters must be able to open within hours. If you would like to donate, visit redcross.org.

6abc Red Cross Month blood drive helps rebuild blood supply

By Alana Mauger

The second 6abc blood drive was held on March 30 in the Fairmount Ballroom at Courtyard by Marriott on City Avenue. Donn Greenberg/American Red Cross

For the second year, 6abc partnered with the American Red Cross to hold a blood drive during Red Cross Month. Over 150 people came out to donate at the drive, which was held on March 30 at Courtyard by Marriott in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. The drive collected 142 units of blood – nearly double the units collected in 2020.

6abc General Manager Bernie Prazenica talks with Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Guy Triano and 6abc Vice President-Community Engagement Niki Hawkins while donating blood. Dave Skutnik/American Red Cross

“This is our second year of doing the blood drive, and last year was actually my first time [donating blood],” said Bernie Prezenika, 6abc general manager, who made his second donation on March 30. “We’re part of our community and we’ve taken great pride in supporting our community. There’s a need for blood that exists all the time, and right now it’s even more.”

Many 6abc employees came out to donate, including News Director Tom Davis, Assistant News Director Christine Bowley, Producer Stephanie Kirk and Reporter Trish Hartman, among others. Guy Triano, CEO for the Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Region, was also on hand to thank donors.

“There’s no substitute for blood donations; we rely on the donations of individuals who roll up their sleeves and help save a life,” said Triano.

Reporter Beccha Hendrickson reported live throughout the drive and spoke with many of those donors who generously rolled up their sleeves. She also produced several pieces leading up to the drive to build awareness about the need for donations.

For one of her stories, she spoke with Stacey Morris, a Montgomery County resident who has received around 20 blood and platelet transfusions after being diagnosed with acquired aplastic anemia in 2019.

Speaking directly to blood donors, Morris said, “Don’t be afraid to [donate]. Even if you’re scared, you have no idea how much it helps. I was so touched by the number of people who stepped up. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped me on this journey, especially the Red Cross.”

6abc Reporter Beccah Hendrickson interviews blood and platelet recipient Stacey Morris at the Red Cross Horsham Blood Donation Center prior to the 6abc blood drive. Alana Mauger/American Red Cross

Hendrickson also spoke to Crescent Foundation COO Tahirah Austin-Muhammad, who regularly receives blood transfusions to treat sickle cell disease – an inherited blood disorder that primarily impacts communities of color. Patients who receive many transfusions over a lifetime, like those with sickle cell disease, need blood that is more closely matched to avoid a life-threatening reaction. The more donations collected from a diverse pool of donors, the more likely a match can be found.

“There’s life in your blood, literally,” said Austin-Muhammad.   

In addition to the recipient stories, Hendrickson covered a blood drive at Chester County Hospital on March 15 to help promote appointment registrations for the 6abc drive.

Check out our full photo album from the 6abc drive on Flickr.

Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer Randy Miller donates blood at the 6abc blood drive.
Alana Mauger/American Red Cross

Red Cross helps region recover after Ida unleashes tornados and historic flooding

The Vine Street Expressway remains underwater closed after flooding Wednesday night. Photo by Siobhan Keefe.

by Dave Skutnik and Alana Mauger

The American Red Cross is working around the clock this holiday weekend to provide care and comfort to people after Hurricane Ida brought devastating storms and flooding from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this past week.

Across Southeastern Pennsylvania, at least six tornados touched down in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties Wednesday evening, causing significant damage and power outages. The storm also brought 6-10 inches of rain across the five-county region, causing major flash flooding and record crests on several waterways.

Since Wednesday, the Red Cross has provided more than 125 shelter stays in Southeastern Pennsylvania and served hundreds of meals and snacks to those in need. As of Friday evening, shelters remain open at the following locations:

  • Philadelphia: West Philadelphia High School – 4901 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
  • Bucks County: Upper Bucks YMCA – 401 Fairview Ave., Quakertown
  • Chester County: Coatesville High School – 1445 Lincoln Highway E., Coatesville
  • Montgomery County: Norristown High School – 1900 Eagle Drive, Norristown

People whose homes are unlivable after the storm are encouraged to visit one of the Red Cross shelter locations listed above to check-in with a Red Cross disaster worker. They can also call 1-800-RED CROSS for assistance.

A sign directs people to the Red Cross shelter at Coatesville Senior High School. Photo by Alana Mauger.

The Red Cross has also mobilized integrated condolence care teams to provide support to families who lost a loved one. Comprised of trained Red Cross volunteers specializing in mental health, health services and casework, these teams can help families cope and provide financial support if needed.

Families are struggling to cope with the devastation left behind by Ida. Every single donation will make a difference in someone’s life. To help people affected by Hurricane Ida, visit redcross.org, call 1-800- RED CROSS, or text the word IDA to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Red Cross disaster workers assist clients at a shelter at Norristown Area High School. Photo by Dave Skutnik.

Right now, more than 85 Red Cross disaster workers are focused on providing safe shelter, food and comfort to people who can’t return home. Red Cross teams are also working closely with local officials to help to assess the damage left behind and make plans for what support families may need in the coming days and weeks. In areas where are cleaning up, the Red Cross is distributing cleaning supplies like mops, bleach, buckets and trash bags. That work will continue throughout the Labor Day weekend.

Power lines litter the street in front of Upper Dublin High School near where a tornado touched down Wednesday night. Photo by Dave Skutnik.

Below are some safety tips for families that may be cleaning up this weekend or still dealing with power outages.

FLOOD CLEANUP SAFETY

  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, when cleaning.
  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected. This includes mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud. When in doubt, throw it out. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut.

POWER OUTAGE SAFETY

  • Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will likely be congested.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and appliances. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.
  • When inside your home, never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices. This also applies to your garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside away from doors, windows and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could catch fire.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet.
Red Cross disaster workers supply clean-up kits at the shelters for residents who need them. Photo by Alana Mauger

Jennie Dillon Heneks: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

By Nancy Degnan

Pictured: Jennie Dillion Heneks and her son Des.

Jennie Dillion Heneks’s superpower is giving the gift of life through blood donations.

Jennie was inspired to become a blood donor with the American Red Cross after her son, Des, became ill with Kawasaki disease (KD). He needed an immediate blood treatment, and Jennie gained a new appreciation for blood donors as she watched her 4-year-old son receive the intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) that would help him recover.

Jennie and Des want to create awareness around recognizing the onset of KD, the importance of quick intervention, and the lifesaving value of blood. KD is a rare condition that mainly affects children; it causes swelling in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body. The inflammation tends to affect the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. When Jennie initially brought her son to the emergency room, Des had a high fever and couldn’t walk due to foot pain and peeling on his toes. These are symptoms noted in the second phase of the disease. (In the third and final phase, signs and symptoms slowly subside.)

The good news is that most kids with KD recover completely, but early action is key. There’s a knowledge gap when it comes to diagnosing KD, and that can result in unnecessary delays. Within the 10-day window of the onset of the condition, parents are important advocates for their kids in dealing with health care providers. Symptoms to watch for: a fever that lasts three to four days, redness in both eyes, a very red and swollen tongue, redness of the palms or soles, skin peeling, a rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

As mentioned, recognizing the early signs—ideally during the first phase—is key. When KD is diagnosed and treated within the first 10 days, there’s a better chance of full recovery without residual problems. The longer the symptoms progress, the higher the likelihood of long-term damage and the need for ongoing treatments.

Pictured: Des Heneks today, living a full life thanks to the blood treatment he received when he was four years old.

Jennie is thankful that the on-call doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was a cardiologist familiar with KD. Thanks to the rapid diagnosis, Des was treated with one IVIG treatment over the course of 36 hours and observed in the ICU for the next seven days to ensure his recovery.

Today, Des is a healthy 13-year-old with a black belt in karate. He is living a full life, thanks to the blood treatment he received at age 4.

Jennie and Des are heroes with heart. Jennie is giving life by giving blood, and with the help of her son, she is creating awareness of the symptoms associated with KD. By helping parents and doctors recognize the early warning signs, she hopes young patients with KD can recover quickly and keep sharing their smiles!

Nine Ways to Safely Celebrate Independence Day, America’s Most Accident-Prone Holiday

By Marta Rusek (she/her)

Image description: A fireworks safety graphic from the American Red Cross featuring red, white, and blue colors. It reads: Do This, NOT That. Green checkmark emoji: Keep water nearby in case fireworks start a fire. Red x emoji: Don’t point fireworks at pets. Green checkmark emoji: Wear eye protection if you light a firework. Red x emoji: Never try relighting a dud.

I love Independence Day. For me, it’s the perfect day to sleep in, take a stroll over to Independence Hall, calculate how many years stand between me and my dream of celebrating the Tricentennial, and enjoy fireworks from a safe distance. For everyone else and their mother, it’s a celebration of American abundance and uninhibited fun, complete with grilling copious amounts of food, cannon-balling into the nearest pool, and setting off as many fireworks as possible, just as the Founding Fathers intended. 

Surprisingly, the Fourth of July is also the holiday whose festivities are most likely to cause an accident. Grill fires, swimming disasters, and mishandled fireworks can bring your highly-anticipated celebration to a grinding halt. Fortunately, the American Red Cross, our first and last resource for disaster prevention, is here to save us from ourselves this July 4th with the following helpful hints:

  • When it comes to grilling, take it outside. Never use a grill inside a camper, in a tent, inside your house, or any enclosed space. Fire from the grill can flare up unexpectedly and spread rapidly indoors.
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance. Hot dogs are the only little doggies allowed near an active grill. Kids and fur babies are fast and can get into trouble in very little time, so make sure they are kept as far away from the grilling area.
  • Use proper grilling tools. Long-handled utensils designed to withstand high temperatures will not only craft the perfect Independence Day feast, they’ll also keep the fire from the grill at arm’s length.
  • Talk to your kids about water safety long before they take a dip. Safe swimming habits are learned, and the Red Cross makes it easy to teach kids from Kindergarten to sixth grade how to enjoy the water safely for life. Check out the Water Safety for Kids resource, and the main Water Safety page here.
  • Go on supervised swim adventures only. While it’s tempting to seek out a private spot where you and your family can swim without crowds in every direction, it’s safest to visit a designated swimming destination with lifeguards certified in CPR and first aid. If you’re swimming with small children or weak swimmers, make sure they wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved swim vest in the water.
  • After the fun is done, flip it over. Kiddie pools are a great way for little kids and the young at heart to keep cool on a hot day. You can prevent accidental drowning (yes, drowning can occur in shallow water) by draining the pool and flipping it upside down when you’re finished.
  • When it comes to celebrating with fireworks, follow the instructions and local regulations closely. Fireworks are fun, but unpredictable. Never give them to small children to play with, and never point them at a person, animal, building, car, or anything flammable. Read up on fireworks regulations in the Philadelphia area here
  • Keep a source of water nearby, in case the fireworks fun goes sideways. 
  • Light one firework at a time, and never try to relight a dud. Your loved ones (and your fingers) will thank you!

And one more tip – in the midst of the fireworks, food, and fun, remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on. News of the Delta strain of the coronavirus is cause for caution, so keep your face masks handy, your hands clean, and stay home if you start to feel sick before the festivities. Celebrate safely this July 4th so we can commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory in style —greased poles and all— in 2022! 

Image Description: A Black woman wearing a red and white American Red Cross baseball cap smiles at the camera. In the background are dark blue and red drawings of stars, swirls, and fireworks to celebrate July 4th.

Looking for an activity for the three-day weekend that will save lives? Give blood through the Red Cross!

As a thank-you, all those who come to give July 1-6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered hat, while supplies last. And, donors who come to give July 7-31 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, plus a chance to win gas for a year (a $5,000 value). (Terms and conditions apply; visit rcblood.org/fuel).

The Rewards of Blood Donation, from a Longtime Donor

By Maria Marabito

June 14, Flag Day, is marked on most Americans’ calendars. But did you know that June 14 is also World Blood Donor Day? This observance, a joint initiative of the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, was created in 2005 for two reasons: to raise awareness of the global need for blood, and to thank blood donors for their lifesaving gifts.

Blood donation is a selfless, honorable act. Blood can’t be manufactured; it can only come from volunteer donors. This year’s theme is “Give blood and keep the world beating.” In the United States alone, about 6.8 million people donate lifesaving blood. Christina McCarthy is one of them.

McCarthy, a clinical assistant at a pain management office, has been giving blood regularly with the Red Cross for about six years now. Like many blood donors, she was inspired to do her part because of a family connection. Her grandfather, who passed away in 2013, had heart issues that landed him in the hospital on a regular basis. He received many transfusions as part of his care, which motivated McCarthy and her family to start donating themselves.

Photo courtesy of Christina McCarthy

McCarthy’s mother was the first in the family to get the ball rolling. Once Christina began working in the medical field, she realized just how important — and how easy— blood donations are. Her sister and some coworkers have since donated as well. 

“I recruited a couple of coworkers for the last blood drive I went to; two women went with me, and now they’re starting to do it on a semi-regular basis as well,” McCarthy says.

The feel-good rewards are immediate, and you’ll be plenty pleased with yourself. But for an extra shot of satisfaction, you can actually find out where your blood donation went: Just use the Red Cross blood donor app. “I like how the Red Cross  tells you when they’ve processed your blood, and they send you an email telling you where it’s going. I think that’s really helpful,” McCarthy says. “I know my last couple of donations have gone to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, so that makes me feel really good.”

The app not only allows you to schedule your donations but also keeps track of them and lets you know when it’s safe to donate again. “I donate every time my app reminds me, so every 48 days or something like that,” McCarthy says. [Editor’s note: you can donate whole blood every 56 days.]

If you’re nervous, McCarthy insists that the needles aren’t bad at all. (New, sterile needles are used and discarded after one use.) You’ll even be given a free mini-physical at your appointment — temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin — to ensure that you’re healthy enough to donate that day. But don’t go on an empty stomach: McCarthy says she passed out the first time, because she didn’t eat enough beforehand. (She recommends a large meal.) That didn’t stop her from going again and turning it into a routine. 

Why give blood? “It is one thing you can do that can literally save someone else’s life, and it’s free for you to do and it takes not even a half hour, so why wouldn’t you do it?” McCarthy says.  [Editor’s note: please allow for 1 hour when you schedule a blood donation appointment.]

In fact, a single donation can potentially save up to three lives.  

And in case you were wondering, the pandemic hasn’t stopped the Red Cross from collecting blood. “They’ve been doing a good job at staggering the appointment times so there aren’t too many people at once. It definitely wouldn’t stop me from donating,” McCarthy says.

There are four blood and platelet donation centers and many blood drive collection sites within the five counties of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Finding a location and time is easy: Just use the Red Cross’s online blood drive finder. You can also use the Red Cross blood donor app to schedule and manage appointments. Depending on the type of donation (whole blood, power red, or platelet), you can donate as often as every 56 days. Today’s your day to save a life… or three!

Primary image description: an illustration, with the American Red Cross logo above the words “World Blood Donor Day” in white letters on a dark blue background. Next to the logo and words is a bright red drop with a water-color rendering of the world inside it.

With snow in the forecast, here’s what you need to know to stay safe

By: Sophie Kluthe

Like many of you, I keep looking up various weather reports to see just how much snow (or rain) we might or might not get Wednesday as Winter Storm Gail moves closer to the Northeast. At this point I almost feel out of practice as we didn’t even get an inch of measurable snowfall last year in Philadelphia. Whether you are a city dweller, living life in the suburbs, or you might need to commute between the two, here is a refresher on winter storm safety.

During any kind of storm, your best bet will be to stay off the road, but if driving in winter weather is unavoidable, here are some tips:

  • In your vehicle keep a windshield scraper, small shovel, and small sack of sand or kitty litter for generating traction under wheels. Also carry an emergency supply kit, including warm clothing. 
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to ensure you have enough fuel to keep warm if you get stuck. 
  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. 
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways. 
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather. 
  • Don’t pass snow plows. 
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways. 
  • If you become stranded, stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards (91 meters). You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow. 

For more on winter storm safety click here.

If you have to go outside, wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat to stay warm. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent, and if you can’t keep dry, change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Getting the snow shovel out? Do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body, which will reduce your chances of muscle injury. 

Speaking of shoveling, 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. And lastly, walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injuries. 

If you plan involves keeping the front door firmly shut, remember to take the following precautions while heating your home:

  • If using a space heater, place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. 
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces. 
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home. 
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters. 
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. 
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs. 
  • Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home. 

Forecasts can change, so remember to keep an eye and an ear on your local weather reports. Remember to include your pets in all of your winter weather planning. Stay warm and stay safe!

National Blood Donor Month: Thoughts from a First-Time Donor

By: Sophie Kluthe

My Experience 

I recently donated blood for the first time. It was something I’d always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of my travel history. I’ll admit, I was nervous at first because of a childhood fear of needles, but the staff at the donation center made my experience nearly painless. Especially compared to what the person who will receive my blood is going through.  

Feeling great after giving blood at the Blood Donation Center at 700 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.
Feeling great after giving blood at the Blood Donation Center at 700 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.

When I used to think about who was receiving these blood donations, I imagined car crash victims and other trauma patients. While these people do depend on life-saving blood, there are many others who rely on it as well. While I was rolling that foam ball around in my hand, I wondered if my blood might go to help a child battling leukemia, or a person who regularly needs blood transfusions to fight a chronic disease. Maybe it would it be used to help someone getting an organ transplant. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion. If a trauma victim ends up in the emergency room, it’s the blood already on the shelves that will save their life.  

National Blood Donor Month 

This January the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter. The colder months are typically the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the winter months, bad weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate. This winter, the need is especially urgent, since there weren’t as many people who donated in the fall compared to years past.

A Sweet Incentive

Throughout the month of January, presenting donors in Southern New Jersey and Southeast Pennsylvania will receive a voucher for a free medium Dunkin’ hot coffee and a classic donut, redeemable at participating Dunkin’ restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia Region, while supplies last. Blood donation appointments can be made by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or to receive more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 

Regional Red Cross CEO, Guy Triano, kicks off the January promotion alongside Jessica Weissman, Integrated Marketing Manager for Philadelphia, Dunkin’ Brands

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. 

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site. 

Red Cross Supports Philly Fire Dept. During Walkthrough

Written by David Haas

A priority for the Red Cross is reducing fire deaths in Eastern Pennsylvania. On Wednesday June 6th, Red Cross volunteers participated in a neighborhood safety walk-through with the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Fire Protection Division and the Fire Department Explorers (the Fire Explorers is a program for teens and young adults interested in fire science, emergency medical services (EMS), disaster relief, emergency management, and military-related training).

installatons 1

During the three-hour event, Red Cross volunteers installed smoke alarms and discussed fire safety with residents of the North Philadelphia neighborhood around Bustleton Ave. & Van Kirk St. where a fire death recently occurred. The Red Cross participates in fatal fire walkthroughs along side the Philadelphia Fire Department to promote fire safety and install smoke alarms in at-risk communities.

Concerned residents warmly welcomed the volunteers, who explained that fires are a major issue in aging homes around Philadelphia.  The most important thing someone can do to prevent fire is to install a smoke alarm. The second most important thing is to have an emergency escape plan.  In almost every house visited, non-working and outdated detectors were found and replaced.

installations 2

The Fire Department supplied smoke alarms while the Red Cross supplied drills and step ladders. Members of the Red Cross Spiritual Care team provided assistance to residents who needed support. WCAU Channel 10, the local NBC affiliate, recorded the event for coverage on its TV news program and online. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel was on hand to thank the program participants.

You can check www.SoundTheAlarm.org/EasternPA to learn more, or access Volunteer Connection to sign up for an upcoming event.  Disaster Action Team members are alerted to Fire Walkthrough in coordination with the Fire Department.

Red Ball 2018: Mission Driven, Fun Had

Written by Megan Speight

Guests partied with a purpose at the 18th Annual Red Cross Red Ball. Named “Philadelphia’s best black-tie charity”, the event did not disappoint. More than 1,100 guests consisted of Red Cross supporters and volunteers, along with people looking to have fun on a Saturday night for a good cause.

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The event was held for the third year at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. The setting provided incredible views of the City of Philadelphia and great photo opportunities looking out over the field.

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Like many events organized by the Red Cross, volunteers were on hand to help everything run smoothly. Volunteers are a crucial reason the Red Cross is so successful and many volunteers have tenure with the organization that can last decades.

So where does this loyalty come from? Jennifer Ingram, communications volunteer, shared why she volunteers for the Red Cross. “I was unemployed, looking for something to do amid job searching. With a passion for writing, I decided to volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Communications Department. That was about six years ago and I haven’t stopped since. I continue because I like the mission and what the organization stands for. Their impact is much wider than just asking people for blood and I’m happy to support them,” she said.

Volunteers aren’t the only individuals who support the Red Cross because of its impactful mission. Guests Ron and Kristina DeGregorio shared that they are “very supportive of the mission and the wonderful job the team does rallying the broader community.”

Community is one of the reasons that I continue to volunteer with the Red Cross as well. I know that no matter what event I support, there is an almost immediate bond I feel with other volunteers. We all know we are there to do great work and support an organization that has a global impact. Additionally, when I volunteer with the Red Cross, I meet and interact with new and interesting people.

One interesting person I was able to meet at the Red Ball was the newly crowned Miss Philadelphia 2018, Aimee Turner. Aimee shared that this is traditionally the first event Miss Philadelphia attends after being crowned. The event draws a fun crowd of diverse people from the Greater Philadelphia Area and provides a great opportunity to mingle and make new connections. She also reiterated that the Red Cross is an “important and great cause to support.”

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One of the highlights and draws of the event is all of the delectable food choices available for guests to enjoy. There were over two dozen appetizer and dessert vendors that served everything from pork croquettes and pizza to water ice and strawberry shortcake.

 

 

One volunteer, Tashema Johnson, raved about the food when sharing why she volunteers for the Red Cross. “I initially started volunteering with my old job a few years ago. When I left, I had already been so involved and supportive of the mission that I didn’t want to stop volunteering. I currently volunteer at the local Red Cross House, but I also support the organization at fire safety events and of course the Red Ball. I love volunteering at the Red Ball because I get to learn about different restaurants and caterers in the city to try out and because I’m guaranteed to wear a nice dress,” she said.

Throughout the evening, guests are able to vote on their favorite appetizer and dessert vendors. This year’s winners were Mission BBQ and Candies and Cakes by Mary Ellen, who both won for the second year in a row.

My favorite appetizers were the Pork Croquettes at Walnut Street Café, Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab Fries and Cheese, and the melt in your mouth scallops served by Devon Seafood during the VIP pre-game party. My favorite dessert was definitely the Moscato drenched water ice served by Mr. D’s Sweets.

In the end, guests partied the night away thanks to the talented CTO bands who got people on their feet and on to the dance floor. Overall, the event was a warm evening filled with fun people, incredible food and was geared towards supporting the mission of the Red Cross.

 

 

Next year I’m looking forward to another mission driven evening with great food and incredible fashion. Did I mention how incredible everyone looked in almost every shade of red in countless different styles? Red Ball 2018 was definitely a fashion moment for the City of Philadelphia.