HELP WANTED: Red Cross needs Selma volunteers
Published 9:57 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023
In the face of increasing disasters, the Selma branch of the American Red Cross is issuing a heartfelt call for community members to join their ranks and become members of the Disaster Action Team. The plea comes as the organization grapples with a shortage of local volunteers to respond to emergencies ranging from fires to storms.
Sandy Zuiderhoek, the Director of the Dallas County Red Cross, emphasizes the critical need for volunteers, particularly for the Disaster Action Team.
“When we had the recent tornadoes, volunteers had to drive in from places like Montgomery. We want neighbors helping neighbors”, Zuiderhoek said. “We’ve got an office in Selma and it’s a great opportunity for folks to give back.”
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Red Cross volunteers provide critical services such as helping victims of storms, floods and fires as well as staffing blood drives, providing training in CPR and water safety and supporting members of the military and their families.
Zuiderhoek stressed that the Red Cross helps with more than just tornadoes and blood drives, noting that the disaster action team’s most frequent call is responding to fires.
According to the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org, disaster action teams respond to over 60,000 emergencies annually, with fires constituting a staggering 90% of disaster responses. These numbers highlight the immediate demand for volunteers whose responsibilities range from providing a listening ear to providing immediate needs such as lodging and clothes. Beyond this initial support, the team plays a vital role in connecting individuals with long-term recovery services. Volunteers are responsible for 90% of the humanitarian work carried out by the Red Cross.
In 2022, the Red Cross responded to 354 large-scale disaster operations and deployed more than 8,600 workers and responded to over 17,000 requests to deliver aid. They also provided over 2 million meals and snacks and over 161,000 overnight shelter and hotel stays.
Ashley Savage, Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist, stresses the organization’s need for local volunteers.
“The American Red Cross is committed to preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of disasters,” Savage said. “Our work doesn’t stop and with more frequent disasters happening in the area and across the state, the Red Cross is in need of volunteers with compassionate hearts to help people recover.”
The website also notes that the organization is always in need of volunteers with diverse backgrounds, talents and skills levels and that there are volunteer opportunities for everyone, regardless of their expertise.
Prospective volunteers can explore opportunities and express their interest by visiting the Red Cross website at: www.redcross.org or by reaching out directly to Sandy Zuiderhoek at 334-201-1620.