How to help the Red Cross help oth­ers

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

The Amer­i­can Red Cross is back in South­ern Mary­land in a big way, and its lead­ers want res­i­dents to know its vol­un­teers stand ready to help. They also want us to know they could al­ways use more vol­un­teers.

Af­ter clos­ing its La Plata re­gional of­fice af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irene six years ago, the Red Cross opened a long-over­due new of­fice in Lex­ing­ton Park in May to ex­pand its lo­cal pres­ence and en­hance its out­reach ef­forts. That new of­fice is next to a pet well­ness clinic in Mil­li­son Plaza across from Patux­ent River Naval Air Sta­tion.

“Our main job down here is dis­as­ter re­sponse,” Ja­son Mar­shall, the agency’s South­ern Mary­land di­rec­tor, said re­cently. The Red Cross of­fers emer­gency ho­tel stays, food and cloth­ing for those who are dis­placed as a re­sult of nat­u­ral or man­made dis­as­ters such as floods, house fires, haz­ardous ma­te­rial spills and car ac­ci­dents.

The lo­cal of­fice is also sharply fo­cused on host­ing health and safety train­ing, and rais­ing aware­ness of all the ser­vices the Red Cross can bring to bear.

As part of rein­tro­duc­ing it­self to the com­mu­nity — and so­lic­it­ing for vol­un­teers as well — the Red Cross will host a pair of open house in­for­ma­tional meet­ings. The first will be to­mor­row, Thurs­day, July 27, at 6 p.m. at the new of­fice at 21800 N. Shangri-La Drive. Re­fresh­ments will be pro­vided, and Red Cross staffers will be avail­able to an­swer ques­tions and dis­cuss vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties.

An­other open house will be held Tues­day, Aug. 1, at Room A of the Wal­dorf West Branch Li­brary, at 10405 O’Don­nell Place.

The Red Cross is hop­ing to score some do­nated space in Calvert and Charles to mir­ror the new St. Mary’s of­fice. While the agency has al­ways had its eye on South­ern Mary­land from its re­gional An­napo­lis of­fice for the past six years, the Red Cross is stress­ing es­tab­lish­ing a re­newed pres­ence in each county. There are more than 400 vol­un­teers now from South­ern Mary­land and Anne Arun­del County, ac­cord­ing to Mar­shall, about a 300 per­cent in­crease from two years ago.

Right now, the St. Mary’s of­fice is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon­days, Wed­nes­days and Fri­days. Call Mar­shall at 410-952-8940 for more in­for­ma­tion about the lo­cal of­fice, or about the two open houses. For those who are in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, call 410-624-2040 to talk to a Red Cross case­worker for as­sis­tance.

That’s how to get help from the Red Cross. To help the agency and to help oth­ers, of course, there’s an­other way that only takes a com­mit­ment of about an hour: Roll up your sleeve and do­nate a pint.

Sum­mer is a crit­i­cal time for blood do­na­tions, the agency’s na­tional of­fice stresses. With so many peo­ple’s minds on travel and va­ca­tion fun, it’s easy to for­get about giv­ing blood. But the need is al­ways there, and hos­pi­tal blood banks of­ten run low dur­ing what is a busy sea­son for ac­ci­dents. Thanks to ad­vances in hema­tol­ogy, one unit of blood can save as many as three peo­ple’s lives.

Ac­cord­ing to www.red­cross­blood.org, up­com­ing blood drives in our area in­clude one to­mor­row, Thurs­day, July 27, from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Baden Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment in Brandy­wine. An­other is slated for Wed­nes­day, Aug. 2, at the Charles County gov­ern­ment cam­pus in La Plata from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For ei­ther lo­ca­tion, reg­is­ter on­line ahead of time at the web­site above, or just walk in. If your blood’s red, they’ll take it.

So com­mit your­self to help­ing the Red Cross here in South­ern Mary­land, ei­ther for an hour or for a more last­ing com­mit­ment as a vol­un­teer. We’ll all be bet­ter for it.

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