How to help the Red Cross help others
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.