Volunteer Spotlight – Amy Smith

Each week during Red Cross Month, we’d like to recognize our Everyday Heroes who give of themselves and help their community.

We’re proud to recognize Amy Smith for her dedication and commitment to fulfilling the Red Cross mission in the SC Region. Amy is the type of person any organization would be lucky to have on its team. Every Tuesday and Thursday for the past nine months, she has walked through the doors of the Columbia Red Cross building with an upbeat attitude and a smile on her face.

Amy contacted the Red Cross after seeing a listing for volunteer opportunities online. After coming on board as a volunteer, she also became a blood donor during the annual Boots & Badges blood drive competition at the Columbia donation center.

While having a disability can present additional challenges in many aspects of life, Amy doesn’t let it get in her way of giving back and thriving as a Red Cross volunteer.

“Even though I’m disabled, I still wanted to be a productive member of society, and the American Red Cross gives me the opportunity to do just that,” said Amy.

As a volunteer who provides support for multiple departments, Amy is busy from the moment she arrives until she leaves in the afternoon. A typical day for her begins with scouring area print publications for Red Cross articles and inputting new volunteer information into the volunteer database.

Her next stop is the Human Resources Department where she assists with clerical duties and other tasks as needed.

“Amy is a very important part of our HR team,” said Karen Crumpton with the SC Region Human Resources Department. “She has taken on many projects that we would not have the personnel to handle without her. She is always happy and smiling and willing to do whatever it takes to help us out. She manages our filing, shredding and data entry. We truly are grateful for all she does.”

But Amy doesn’t stop there. She also helps out in the Donor Recruitment Department with sorting promotional items and folding T-shirts for specialty blood drives and events such as the Family and Friends blood drive.

For this year’s Family and Friends drive, Amy used her personal funds to purchase crafts so donors’ children would have a fun activity to do while their parents were donating—talk about going above and beyond!

“I truly am inspired by Amy’s dedication and ‘can do’ attitude”, said Astrida Thomas, HR Manager. “She is very engaged, efficient and a team player at all times. We would be unable to be as efficient and effective in our daily HR activities if it were not for her assistance. We are fortunate to have her as a part of the HR team and hope to continue to have her on our team as long as she is willing.”

Amy is an asset to the Red Cross volunteer program, and she epitomizes what the Red Cross mission is all about—people helping people. We’re grateful for her support and dedication to the organization.

If you’re interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit Redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

March is Red Cross Month – Join the Movement!

March is American Red Cross Month and is a time for community members and businesses to join the Red Cross movement and help us carry out our lifesaving mission with a gift of time, money or blood.

Red Cross volunteers and staff members kick-off Red Cross Month by building a human red cross

Red Cross volunteers and staff members kick-off Red Cross Month by building a human red cross

March was first proclaimed as Red Cross Month 70 years ago by resident Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since 1943, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month. The American Red Cross is synonymous with helping people, and has been doing so for more than 130 years.

We  respond to nearly 70,000 disasters a year in this country, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. We provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families – in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world; collect and distribute about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and train more than seven million people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.

Last year in our community, the we provided emergency assistance to 5,041 adults and children that were affected by a disaster, handled 5,594 military emergency communications, trained 38,227 people in lifesaving skills and collected 109, 881 red blood cells and 27, 677 platelets. The Palmetto SC Region is made up of seven Red Cross chapters, serving 35 counties in South Carolina.

The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar given to the Red Cross is invested in helping people in need.

To learn more about how you can get involved visit Redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Give Something that Means Something this Holiday Season

This holiday season we are asking you to “give something that means something” by purchasing gifts from the 2012 Holiday Giving Catalog in honor of family, friends or colleagues.

You can support Red Cross programs by purchasing a variety of symbolic gifts. You can buy food and shelter for a disaster victim, phone cards for members of the military, vaccinations for an entire village and many other gift ideas. Catalog purchases come with greeting cards shoppers can send to a friend or loved one, letting them know a donation has been made in their name.

The purchase of each gift item is a tax-deductible contribution and provides support to the mission of the Red Cross. The catalog gifts are contributions toward a Red Cross program area, not a donation to a specific project or item.

Click here to start shopping our 2012 Holiday Giving Catalog.  

“Rebirthday” blood drive hosted by young survivor

Emma Grace (bottom, left) poses with her brother, parents and Red Cross staff member, Angela A. Broome in front of the Bloodmobile at the Charlotte Knights game.

Emma Grace (bottom, left) poses with her brother, parents and Red Cross staff member, Angela A. Broome in front of the Bloodmobile at the Charlotte Knights game.

At age 10, Emma Grace Barnes, of Fort Mill, S.C., is not your typical blood drive sponsor. She’s a spunky fifth-grader at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, and she dances at Miller Street Dance Academy.

In July 2011, Emma Grace became very sick. She was diagnosed with AVM (arteriovenous malformation) in her brain, causing her brain to bleed. Doctors had to perform a craniotomy on Emma Grace. She also underwent radiation treatments and had to receive blood transfusions.

Many with AVM do not survive. Those who do, call their survival date a “rebirthday.” Emma Grace realized how thankful she was to receive blood, and it helped save her life. She decided to host a blood drive at her dance school, which has been an integral part of her recovery—physically, mentally and socially. Never doing anything half-way, Emma Grace’s first blood drive was a big success, surpassing her goal of 25 units, and collecting 27 pints of blood!

“When people donate blood you can know for a fact that you did something good for another person who really needed it,” said Emma Grace.

“Emma Grace has faced each step with courage and determination. I am so proud of her,” said Emma Grace’s Mom Emme Barnes. “As a parent of a child who needed the blood when we were in crisis mode helping her recover from such an invasive surgery, it was comforting to know that someone’s selfless act of donating blood made such a huge difference. It was one less thing to worry about in the hospital so we are truly grateful.”

Emma Grace now wants to host a blood drive at her dance studio every July to celebrate her “rebirthday.”

This past summer the Red Cross experienced the lowest supply of blood in 15 years.  So if you’re looking for a way to give back, please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go to redcross.org for more information on blood donation. And if you can’t donate, please consider volunteering or making a financial contribution. 

Volunteers and donors are the backbone of our organization, and through their commitment to our mission, we’re saving lives every day.

Making a Difference One Hug at a Time!

Submitted by Paula Thayer, Major Gifts Manager, American Red Cross, Columbia Region

Mr. Warren LaBorde is an extraordinary volunteer in the blood donor room at the American Red Cross in Columbia, SC.  Every Thursday and Friday he can be found passing out snacks and beverages, giving hugs and sharing stories.

Warren LaBorde spends every Thursday and Friday volunteering in the blood donor room at the Red Cross and excels at making our donors feel welcome and appreciated.

Mr. LaBorde is retired and was looking for a place to give back to his community. While talking with his financial advisor (who happens to be a faithful platelet donor) he found out about the need for volunteers at the Red Cross and came right over.

After being interviewed, it was determined that he was definitely a “people person” and needed to be placed in a position with lots of contact with the public, thus the Blood Donor Room.  For the past year anyone coming in to donate blood products on a Thursday or Friday will find his bright smiling face there to offer a word of encouragement and one of his famous hugs.

Mr. LaBorde wanted to take his service one step further and decided to become a financial supporter of the Red Cross.  One morning he surprised me  in the front lobby and stated that he had a stock certificate that was coming due and wanted to cash it in to make a donation to the Red Cross. 

After some careful planning with his platelet-donating financial advisor, LaBorde presented the Red Cross with a large donation to assist with the disaster relief program throughout the Columbia Region, which serves 28 counties in South Carolina.

Me thanking Mr. LaBorde for his gracious donation by giving him an offical Red Cross lapel pin.

The Red Cross is not a government agency and depends 100% on the generosity of donors like LaBorde, as well as our massive volunteer workforce which comprises 98% of the people carrying out the mission of the Red Cross each and every day down the street, across the country and around the world.    When one of those volunteers also becomes a financial supporter we are overjoyed because of the double impact that person has on the overall operation of our programs and services. 

On behlaf of the Red Cross, thank you Warren LaBorde for bringing hope to those in need! 

Thank you to our local heroes!

Here’s to all the volunteers!

“Here’s to all volunteers, those dedicated people who believe in all work and no pay.”    -Robert Orben

April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week and the Red Cross wants to celebrate its dedicated volunteers and partners. These volunteers power the American Red Cross and making it possible for the Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Our volunteers are central to the work of the Red Cross in our commuinity and in communities across the country, as on average, the Red Cross has 15 volunteers for every one employee. Our volunteers are people of action—whether providing comfort to a family whose home has been washed away in a flood or getting an emergency message to a member of the military whose father is critically ill.

Today and always, we salute you.  Your dedication to serving others helps to make the vision of the Red Cross a reality.

SC Saves Lives was a huge success!

Our first annual “SC Saves Lives” event on March 7th was a huge success!  We’re so excited about the 118 people that were trained in Citizen CPR and the 48 people who donated blood, giving us the total of 39 units of blood collected!  Thank you to the Colonial Life Arena for hosting our event and partnering with us in our efforts to help save lives.  We are also thankful to Colonial Life Accidental Insurance, WIS News 10, WXRY 99.3 FM and The State for sponsoring our free lifesaving event!

A proud donor hugs a Red Cross staff member after donating blood.

Participants practicing their technique and listening carefully to the Citizens CPR instructor, Stanley Dowling.

What is Citizen CPR?

In 2011, the Red Cross launched the new Citizen CPR lifesaving training.   Also referred to as “hands-only CPR,” the potentially lifesaving technique involves no mouth-to-mouth contact and is best used in emergencies where someone has seen another person suddenly collapse.  The hands-only technique increases the likelihood of surviving cardiac emergencies that occur outside medical settings.

We were able to provide this training free-of-charge through the generous support of Colonial Life Accidental Insurance.   Thank you Colonial Life for making our community a safer place!

A group of participants learn the Citizen CPR technique.

One of the 118 people that learned how to perform Citizen CPR.

“The mission of the Red Cross is simple—to help people in need, and during this year’s Red Cross month we hope to build awareness of our mission and ensure that our community is ready for emergency situations.”            

Scott R. Salemme, regional chief executive officer, American Red Cross, Columbia Region

Our wonderful volunteers and staff working the Disaster Relief information booth.

For more information on the Red Cross, Citizens CPR or to make a blood donation appointment,  please visit Redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS.