March Marks National American Red Cross Month

March is American Red Cross month, which is a nationwide initiative aimed at raising awareness for the humanitarian programs and services provided by this organization. As such, I would like to highlight the many ways the American Red Cross makes an impact in communities across the world as well as to share ways you can get involved. Founded in 1881, the American Red Cross began as an organization dedicated to providing first aid, water safety and public health nursing programs – services it still offers today. It was during the First World War, however, that the Red Cross grew exponentially by expanding its outreach to include military medical and disaster relief efforts and became the organization we now know it as today. It was also during this time period that the Coastal Bend Chapter of the American Red Cross received its charter. Today, the local chapter serves more than 19 counties throughout our region including Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Calhoun, DeWitt, Duval, Goliad, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Live Oak, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio and Victoria .

According the organization’s website, the American Red Cross offers support and resources to five key areas:
• Disaster Relief: It is estimated that the American Red Cross volunteers respond to over 70,000 disasters annually. These disasters include hurricanes, tornados, floods, fires, transportation accidents, and chemical spills. In the aftermath of such events, these volunteers help in such ways as collecting donations, operating shelters for displaced families, and coordinating medical and emotional support for those in need.

• Lifesaving Blood: The American Red Cross realizes the need for blood donations. Through blood drives the Red Cross helps saves live all over the U.S. To learn more about donating blood and to learn the facts of blood visit the American Red Cross website.

• Health and safety education and training: The American Red Cross helps prepare individuals and communities to manage emergency situations through health and safety education and training services. Locally, the Coastal Bend Texas Chapter of the American offers Red Cross CPR and AED certification, First Aid classes, Lifeguard training, and Swimming and Water Safety instruction. More information about how to participate in one of the educational trainings offered by American Red Cross can be found online here American Red Cross Training.

• Support for members of the military and their families: Another core function of the American Red Cross is providing support for members of the military and their families. A way this is accomplished in our area is by helping service members return to their families during times of emergency. From the first day of deployment, service members and their families are eligible for Red Cross assistance. All Red Cross services are provided at home and overseas instillations, which bring comfort to thousands of families. Each year, the American Red Cross helps reconnect, on average, more than 6,400 families separated by war, disaster, or migration around the world.

• International relief and development: Internationally, the American Red Cross provides humanitarian services to 180 countries across the globe. These outreach efforts include disaster response, helping to reconnect families separated by crisis, and providing vaccinations for diseases such as measles and rubella. There are over 17 million volunteers worldwide.

Whether it is through volunteering time, donating blood or offering financial support, I would like to encourage you to mark national American Red Cross month by exploring the ways you can get involved with this important organization. You can reach the local American Red Cross chapter at 361-887-9991. To learn more please visit American Red Cross.

If you would like to review more about the legislature, please visit the Texas Legislature online at Texas Legislature Online. If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672.