Pictured above: Red Cross volunteers David, Karen and Kandy enjoy a holiday feast provided by staff as recognition and appreciation for their hard work and service to the organization.
By Y. Hope Osborn, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree!” Red Cross staffers and volunteers sing with Erika of Blood Services “conducting” and Belinda of Disaster Cycle Services leading at the Christmas Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon in Little Rock, AR.
“… O29. N34. B22.”
“BINGO! … I lied” Everyone laughs. We all enjoy playing Bingo and checking our ticket numbers for a chance to win a blanket, chocolates, a Starbucks mug with coffee, or one of the other door prizes staff members donated for the event.
David, an External Relations Lead volunteer among other things, quips, “Let me tell you, I put on 40 pounds since I have been with the Red Cross.” I gain at least 5 pounds myself just from the spread of food on tables spanning almost the length of one side of the room. Turkey and dressing. Ham. Mac-n-cheese. Yams … And, oh, did I mention desserts, courtesy of Volunteer Services?
The chorus of high-spirited conversation stops—the shrill whistle, grabbing everyone’s attention for the next event is from Walter, who is there with his multi-generational family, all of whom are Red Cross volunteers.
Walter isn’t a spring chicken, but he acts like one. He tells me he deployed to Oklahoma as a volunteer because of flooding and tornadoes, and he served in Iowa and other states such as Florida. In fact, when Category 5 Hurricane Matthew struck the southeastern United States this year, Walter was on his way, ticket in hand, to visit a friend in South Carolina, but he promptly changed plans when the Red Cross asked him to help with disaster relief in Florida.
The Little Rock Greater Ozark Center, where I am this day, isn’t the only place from which the Red Cross’s Blood and Humanitarian Services shows holiday appreciation for volunteers like Walter and David. At events all across Oklahoma and Arkansas, the Red Cross wishes volunteers and staffers, “Merry Christmas and happy holidays!”
Volunteers are at the heart of the American Red Cross mission to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.” The assistance the Red Cross provides during disasters, including daily home fires; the preparedness education and free fire alarm installations; the services to military members, veterans, and military families; the blood and platelets for the injured or sick; and all the other facets of the Red Cross’s service to our communities, both on the ground and behind the scenes, is not possible without the compassion and gift of time its volunteers offer. These appreciation events are just a small way of saying thank you to these every day heroes, because the Red Cross can never thank its volunteers enough for everything they do.
All of us have the opportunity to use our individual skills, interests and resources to help further the cause of the Red Cross.
To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.
To give blood or platelets, visit redcrossblood.org.
To make a donation, visit redcross.org/donate or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to disaster relief.