Pizza Hut Partners with the Red Cross during April

Pizza Hut

Red Cross month may be over, but April marks the exciting launch of our Heroes Campaign for 2013. “Heroes for the American Red Cross” is a grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign that gives YOU the chance to make a real impact on the community. Heroes pledge to raise a minimum of $1,250 for the Red Cross during the campaign period. Participating Heroes can raise the money personally, as an organization or by hosting a fundraising event.

To help us celebrate this campaign, Pizza Hut will be offering a special meal deal through the entire month of April. A percentage of sales from this deal will go directly to the Red Cross to support disaster relief, health services and education, services to the armed forces and more! If you’d like to contribute to the cause but don’t want the special deal, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase a “Heroes” point-of-sale poster for a minimum $1 donation. This poster will be displayed all month to commemorate your generosity.

Be sure to come out to Pizza Hut this month to support your local Red Cross. You can also click here to order online.  If you or your organization is interested in joining the Heroes campaign, please contact Paula Thayer at or (803) 540-1219.

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 or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Local Heroes Rally for the American Red Cross

Ms. Carter and Ms. Harr’s K-4 class at Leaphart Elementary School became the American Red Cross of Central South Carolina’s first Junior Hero of FY2011 by raising $519.02.

Down the street, across the country, and around the world—whether raising money for local disaster relief, the recent tornadoes and flooding across the country, or the earthquake in Japan—Midland’s youth are making a difference.  Since July 2010, local area schools, from K-4 to college, have donated over $30,900 to the American Red Cross for various disaster relief efforts.  While not everyone has the means for a large individual donation, fundraising through bake sales, dress-down days, school social events, penny collections, silent auctions, and restaurant percentage nights gives everyone, regardless of age, an opportunity to become a Red Cross “Hero.” 

The Red Cross “Heroes” program is a grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign through which the Red Cross partners with community groups and individuals to raise funds for the vital programs and services that the organization provides to the community.  In light of the recent disasters, both near and far, our local schools have recognized the importance of giving back. Over 30 local schools in theMidlandshave become either “Heroes” or “Junior Heroes” for the Red Cross by raising over $1,000 or $500, respectively.

 “We cannot stress enough the importance of teaching children from an early age the value of philanthropic efforts,” Paula Thayer, development associate, American Red Cross.  “The funds raised by students have ranged from donations in the $100 range all the way up to the $10,000 plus range. The value of each contribution is measured by the gratitude of the people whose lives are touched by each blanket or comfort kit those funds purchased.”

 The Red Cross would like to thank the following local schools who have rallied to support its humanitarian mission: Fairfield County School District, Lexington/Richland School District 5, St. Andrews Middle School, Batesburg-Leesville Elementary School, Doby’s Mill Elementary School, Kershaw County School District, Dreher High School, Lugoff Elementary School, Bethel Hanberry Elementary School, Dutch Fork Elementary School, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Sumter County School District 17, Pleasant Hill Elementary School, Lexington School District 1, Elloree Elementary School, Richland School District 1, Saluda Middle School, Moore School of Business, Edgefield Middle School, Lake Murray School, Fairfield Magnet School, Delmae Heights Elementary School, Lake Marion High School, Lower Richland Youth Corp, Leaphart Elementary School, Spring Valley High School, Manning Early Childhood Center, Grace Christian School, USC-All One, Hand Middle School, and Pontiac Elementary School. Making a difference truly starts down the street.

“There is no greater feeling than that of bringing hope to someone who feels they are in a hopeless situation,” said Thayer.  “That is exactly what your Red Cross does each and every day and it is all made possible by the funds raised by the American people.”

To become a Hero, call (803) 540-1219 or e-mail  To make a donation, please visit or call (803) 540-1241. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross, PO Pox 91,Columbia,SC29202.

Local Youth Rally to Support Japan Disaster Relief

Alix (left) and Cari (right) with Sam Blaiss (left), Bi-Lo VP Central Region, and Scott R. Salemme (right), American Red Cross Columbia Region CEO

In the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, two young ladies, Alix (15) and Cari (11), supported by their father, Dr. Steve Takayama Tuel, and their mother, Dr. Katharine Presty, decided that they needed to form a plan to raise money to support the ongoing needs in that country.  The family, of Japanese descent, felt a true draw to the mission being played out before their eyes through the Japanese Red Cross.  Cari decided to hold a number of bake sales at Hand Middle School where she is a student.  She raised close to $2,000.  Alix, a student at Dreher High School, contacted Morihiko Nakahara, Conductor of the SC Philharmonic, and raised another $2,000 through a fundraiser held during one of the philharmonic’s performances.

This was not enough for the Takayama Tuel’s. The family furthered their mission by organizing and implementing a Japanese Cultural Event and Silent Art Auction that took place on April 20th at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Columbia. This event was a huge success and raised another $12,000, bringing their total to just over $16,000.  The family then contacted Bi-Lo Charities to see if they  would match the money collected. Through negotiations and much perseverance, the Takayama Tuels obtained the match and presented a check in excess of $38,000 to the American Red Cross to support the Japanese earthquake victims.  This family demonstrated a sincere desire to help others through their efforts and worked unselfishly to plan and implement the events that raised so much money.

However, their story does not end here.  Alix and Cari are actively planning to organize another project for the American Red Cross and would like to involve students from their respective schools, Dreher High and Hand Middle, in an effort to promote the on-going mission of the Red Cross and encourage service to the community.

K-4 Class Becomes Junior Heroes

"The Superstars" of Leaphart Elementary School

Congratulations to Ms. Carter and Ms. Harr’s K-4 class at Leaphart Elementary School for becoming our first Junior Heroes of FY2011! This class of about twenty students raised $519.02 for the American Red Cross. Thank you for your support!

97 Year Old Woman Finds a Friend in the American Red Cross

“You’re an Angel,” said Ruth Johnson, a 97 year oldFayetteville, NC resident, to American Red Cross disaster volunteer, Kathy Brown.  Ruth and Kathy first met days after a tornado hit Ruth’s home and caused severe damage.  

On April 16th, Ruth was home alone watching TV when her normal programming was interrupted by a tornado warning.  The reporter urged all viewers to immediately go to a safe place in the middle of their homes and duck for safety.  Ruth did what she was told and grabbed her cat, Blackie, a chair, and proceeded to the hallway of her home for safety.  

“Everyone says that a tornado sounds like a freight train, but this one was much worse – it was 50 times worse,” said Ruth.  “It was unreal; all my life I’ve never heard anything like it.  Blackie was going crazy and was very scared when the tornado hit.”  Sadly, this scared moment was the last time that Ruth saw Blackie. 

Moments later Ruth’s neighbors came running in her home to make sure she was okay.  “Four gentlemen carried me out of my house and together we all walked down the street to safety,” she recalled.  “I don’t remember the last time I walked a mile.”  

Ruth stayed with a friend for over a week, and was able to return to her home nine days later.  The very next day after she returned home is when she met her angel, Kathy.  Kathy was on her normal food delivery route in the Red Cross emergency response vehicle.  Kathy decided that she was going to going the extra mile and walk up to Ruth’s door to offer her food and see if she was okay.  

“When I first met Ruth, I explained that I was a Red Cross volunteer fromSouth Carolina, and she couldn’t believe that I came all that way to help a little old lady,” said Kathy.  “I wanted to make sure that she was okay and had plenty of food to eat.  She said that her daughter was helping her and that she had everything that she needed.  She insisted that I give the food to someone else in the neighborhood that needed it more than she did.”  

“I am very blessed to be alive and know that other people have had it much worse,” said Ruth.  “I know I am going to be okay and am glad that Kathy and the Red Cross continue to check in on me. The only thing I need now is for Blackie to come home safely.  I really miss her.”  

Kathy Brown is one of the 16 volunteers that was deployed from the Columbia Region to assist in disaster relief efforts inNorth Carolina.  “It is very important to help our neighbors in their darkest hours – whether it is down the street, across the country, or around the world.  Sometimes we have long hours during disaster relief operations, but people like Ruth make it all worth while and justify being away from home for weeks a time,” said Kathy.  “I will never forget her face and that infectious smile.” 

Those who want to help the people affected by this disaster can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Their gift will enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other disaster assistance. To make a donation, people can visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross, PO Pox 91, Columbia, SC 29202 or by calling (803) 540-1242.

Central SC Chapter Volunteer Receives Volunteer of the Year Award


Bob Levinge, an American Red Cross volunteer received the United Way of Kershaw County’s Volunteer of the Year Award!

Bob has been a Red Cross volunteer for three years and has helped over 100 families by responding to their emergencies whether it’s a single family fire or military emergency. Thanks to volunteers like Bob the families are provided hope with a plan for recovery, given a roof over their head or consoled during a medical crisis.