Officials ask community to spread word about Red Cross

PARKERSBURG – March is Red Cross Month and the local chapter is asking for the community’s help to spread the word and generate support.

Sharon Kesselring, financial development director for the Mid-Ohio Valley chapter of the West Virginia American Red Cross, said officials are using Red Cross Month to inform the community about disaster preparedness and the need for volunteers and donations to aid the Red Cross in helping communities and residents throughout the state.

The Red Cross is a non-profit organization closely working with government agencies and disaster response groups to bring aid to people in distress caused by man-made or natural disasters.

“This year we have doubled the number of cases we have responded to and tripled our financial assistance,” Kesselring said. “This has been a tough year for a lot of people.”

The local Red Cross has a fundraising goal of $25,000 for Red Cross Month. Kesselring said a Red Cross board member has already pledged $5,000 to kick off the drive, and the organization is seeking a matching grant for the money raised.

Kesselring also said more help is needed.

“We have four-and-a-half people covering eight West Virginia counties and Belpre for the Mid-Ohio Valley,” she said. “We rely very heavily on volunteers. We couldn’t do it without our volunteers.”

The organization provides free training for volunteers and allows them to choose the range of their services, whether it is local, regional or even throughout the eastern seaboard.

The Red Cross also holds local training sessions on disaster preparedness and for emergency response, such as CPR classes. Several free applications are made available through the Red Cross for iPhone, iPad and Android, including disaster preparedness and first aid apps. Those can be found through various app services by searching for “American Red Cross.”

Locally the Red Cross will hold a volunteer recruitment and preparedness education program from 1-3 p.m. Tuesday at the Red Cross office on Eighth Street in Parkersburg. Similar events will be announced later for New Martinsville and Glenville.

The organization also is doing a church outreach program, scheduling fundraising and informational events through interested local churches. Those churches which would like to host an event should contact local officials at 304 485-7311.

The West Virginia American Red Cross has events planned throughout the state in March to celebrate Red Cross Month. To kick off the month, officials will gather in Charleston today to Red Cross Day at the Capitol will be held today. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will present a proclamation declaring March as Red Cross Month in West Virginia during a press conference at 10 a.m. and the House of Delegates and Senate will present resolutions. Red Cross workers also will have a display set-up in the Capitol Rotunda welcoming visitors, sharing information and serving refreshments.

On March 19, the Red Cross First Annual Women Who Care Networking Reception will be held at the Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are available through redcrosswv.org

To donate to the West Virginia American Red Cross, visit redcrosswv.org. Donors also can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10, or a donation can be made at the Mid-Ohio Valley American Red Cross office at 220 Eighth St., Parkersburg.

Stories of how the American Red Cross has affected people’s lives can be shared through Twitter with the hashtag #BeAHero or sent to @ARCWV.

For more scheduled Red Cross Month events, visit redcrosswv.org.