Wishing You a Safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer fun and we want everyone to have a safe holiday.  Whether the weekend will involve travel, grilling or swimming, we have safety tips everyone can follow. Have fun and be safe!

SWIMMING SAFETY Learning to swim is one of the best steps someone can take to be safe around water. People can contact their local Red Cross chapter and learn how to swim as well as get the facts about water safety, home pool safety, first aid and CPR classes. Other swimming safety tips include:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

POOL SAFETY It’s important to constantly supervise children when they are near water. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water. Avoid distractions when supervising children around water. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.

DOWNLOAD FIRST AID APP Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergency at someone’s fingertips. The free app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

DRIVE SAFELY With more people on the roads, it’s important to drive safely. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If plans include drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink. Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Give one’s full attention to the road.  Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  •  Make frequent stops.
  • Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night.
  • Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather. Don’t overdrive the headlights.

GRILLING SAFETY The Red Cross offers these tips to stay safe while cooking those tasty cookout treats:

  • Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Keep the chef safe by using the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.
  • Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.
  • Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups.
  • Wash one’s hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after touching raw meat and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to do something with children.

Join Us at the 24th Annual Christmas Eve and Day Dinner

Christmas Dinner 2

The Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross will host its 24th annual Christmas Eve and Day Dinner, sponsored by Bi-Lo Charities.  These dinners are open to anyone who needs a hot meal or a place to fellowship on this special occasion.     

Dinners will take place on the following:

  • Monday, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012 from noon– 2:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 205 S. Rosemary Avenue, Andrews, S.C.
  • Tuesday, Christmas Day, December 25, 2012 from1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Belin United Methodist Church, located at 4183 Hwy 17 S., Murrells Inlet, S.C.

We hope to provide over 6,000 meals, including home deliveries to those who cannot get to a church site. This event is provided free to the public thanks to a generous sponsorship from Bi-Lo Charities and donations from the community, as well as with the assistance of over one hundred Red Cross volunteers.

For more information, please contact the Coastal South Carolina Chapter at (843) 477-0020. 

We hope to see you there!  Happy Holidays from your friends at the Red Cross!

Midlands Students Make Holiday Greetings for the Troops!

Thank you very much to all the students across the Midlands who helped contribute to our 2012 Holiday Mail for Heroes program!  On December 4th, over 6,700 holiday cards created by students from Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg and Richland school districts were presented to the American Red Cross, Columbia Region at Carver-Lyon Elementary School.

A group of studnts with some of the cards they decorated for the troops.

A group of students at Carver-Lyon Elementary School present the Red Cross with over 6,700 holiday cards for service men and women.

Students across the Midlands spent weeks designing, writing and putting finishing touches on their cards so that they could bring a “touch of home” to our troops during the holiday season.

HMFH School 12412 (45)

These creative cards made by students will be delivered to service men and women as part of the 2012 Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Colorful cards, including some written in Spanish, were created by students in conjunction with the Red Cross 2012 Holiday Mail for Heroes, a program that has collected millions of holiday wishes from everyday Americans expressing their gratitude to our service men and women stationed around the world.

Regional CEO Scott R. Salemme and Kitrina Wright presenting a certificate of thanks to Dr. Traci Cooper.

Regional CEO, Scott R. Salemme and Board Member,  Kitrina Wright present a certificate of appreciation to Dr. Traci Young Cooper for her leadership in challenging area schools to make over 6,700 holiday cards.

Time is running out to mail your cards! The last day to send in your cards to the troops is this Friday, December 7th. If you would like to participate, visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail to get started!

Please send your cards to the following address: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. 

This Year Americans of All Ages Made Holiday Mail for Heroes A Success!

For the fifth year in a row, people from all corners of the country showed their incredible support for the country’s service members, veterans and their families by participating in Holiday Mail for Heroes, a program run by the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes. 

At shopping malls, over Thanksgiving gatherings and simply during their own free time, Americans of all ages took the program’s mission to heart and sent in thousands of holiday greeting cards, which will be distributed across the country and around the world.

Holiday cards created by Richland One Middle College

In the Columbia Region, 34,763 cards were collected from schools, businesses, churches and community members.   In Columbia, we had over dozen volunteers spend the day at our office sorting cards.  Below is a video of Cheryl Payne, a Red Cross volunteer reading a card that was made by students at Fort Mill Elementary School in Fort Mill, SC.

Handmade cards from children often win the most smiles.  Students from across our region learned the importance of giving back, while unleashing their creative minds to produce spectacular holiday cards. 

Click here for a full story about how students at Rosewood Elementary School in Columbia, SC created cards for our troops.  

The University of South Carolina (USC) provided tremendous support to the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Over 5,000 cards were signed during USC’s Homecoming and during the Annual Carolina/Clemson Blood Drive.

Also, USC’s Athletics Department unleashed their own creativity by holding a Holiday Mail for Heroes card-design contest. Two dozen volunteers from the department, both students and employees, spent time at the Red Cross office in Columbia to put together their handmade greetings.

The proud winners of the University of South Carolina's Athletics Department’s Holiday Mail for Heroes card design contest. From left: Paul Stoltzfun, Gerald Dixon Jr. and Raymond Harrison.

This year the Red Cross teamed up with “A Devine Night Out,” Columbia’s premier Holiday event.  At this event Red Cross volunteers had multiple tables set up where guests participated in Holiday Mail.

The success of this year’s program was made possible by each and every member of the community that participated.  Thank you for your support of our country’s military, veterans and their families!

‘Tis the Season – Holiday Mail For Heroes Begins!

Holiday Cards made by "Richland One Cares" volunteers for our Military.

The American Red Cross has kicked off  its “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.  “Holiday Mail for Heroes” is a way for Americans of all ages to send holiday cards to members of the  military from all branches, active duty, guard and reserve, retirees and family members of those listed.

This year, the American Red Cross and partner Pitney Bowes are celebrating the fifth anniversary of Holiday Mail for Heroes, a program that has collected millions of holiday wishes from everyday Americans sharing their thanks with our service men and women.                      

  • Since 2006, the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have received more than 3.5 million holiday cards for members of the Armed Forces.
  • The goal of Holiday Mail for Heroes is to empower everyday Americans to share “a touch of home” with our service men and women while thanking them for their sacrifice.
  • All you need is a pen and card to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the U.S. Armed Forces make to protect our freedom.
  • The process is simple – you send cards to a special PO Box, Pitney Bowes scans all mail to ensure security, and Red Cross volunteers, chapters and base installations deliver the cards to active duty service members and veterans down the street, across the country and around the world.
  • Sending a “touch of home” to American men and women who serve our country is the perfect way to express your appreciation and support during the holiday season.
On Friday, October 14, the Red Cross partnered with Richland County One School District’s “Richland One Cares. ” Four volunteer employees spent an entire day making cards for our military. We would like to thank Tracy Gregg, Saundrina Wannamaker, Marjorie Lewis and Sharon Austin for donating their time and creativity to the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program!

Want to get involved? Here’s how.

Create your card. There are three options:

  1. Design and print your own cards, branding them with your own logo
  2. Purchase cards or
  3. Purchase supplies to make cards.  Children are especially fond of making their own cards, and they are very popular with service members.

 Be sure the messages in the cards are appropriate:

  • Messages in cards should be positive:  “Thank you for your service.”  “Have a safe and happy holiday season.” “Have a happy New Year.”
  • Use the greeting: “Dear Service Member or Veteran,” not “Dear Soldier” or “Dear Sailor.”
  • Sign cards with only first names—do not include full name, address, phone number or e-mail addresses.  “Merry Christmas from the Sanderson Family,Phoenix,Arizona” is fine.
  • Do not put cards in envelopes. No envelopes or letters are accepted, only cards.
  • Please do not include inserts of any kind, including photos, glitter or attachments; these items will be removed during the reviewing process.

Once you have your cards ready to go:

  • Place completed cards in a manila envelope or box (the flat rate boxes from the USPS work well) and mail them to PitneyBowes, postmarked by Dec. 9.  Your organization pays postage to PitneyBowes. PitneyBowes will provide security screening then will send them to Red Cross chapters around the world for message screening and distribution to members of the armed forces.
  • Send an e-mail to Anna Kate Christophillis, christophillisa@usa.redcross.org and let her know approximately how many cards your group sent to PitneyBowes.

The American Red Cross relies on the generosity of everyday Americans to carry out its mission of service to the over 2 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Guard and Reserves and many of our nation’s 24 million veterans and their families.                     

  • The Red Cross supports service members and their families before, during and after deployments. It prepares families for the realities of deployment with educational courses and resources and keeps families in touch during emergencies with its global communication services.
  • Today, in the age of cell phones and email, the Red Cross Emergency Communication Network is vital to service members, their families and commanders in the field. Military commanders know in times of family crisis, they can rely on the Red Cross to verify and quickly relay important and confidential information to military personnel.
  • The Red Cross also provides comfort and support to wounded warriors, veterans and their families in military and veterans’ hospitals stateside and abroad.
  • Each day, we assist an average of 476 families through the Red Cross Emergency Communications Network, passing on messages about births, illnesses or death in the family. When a Red Cross message arrives, the service member knows the information is accurate and the commander can make an informed decision about whether or not to grant leave.
  • Supporting Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces work is simple and we encourage you to click, call or text to make a financial donation. Visit http://www.redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS to make a financial donation.

For more information,   www.redcross.org/holidaymail or contact Anna Kate Christophillis, Regional Communications Officer at christophillisa@usa.redcross.org or at  (803) 540-1244.