(SPECIAL) As Red Cross Month drew to an end last month, the Iowa Rivers Chapter based in Marshalltown could be seen doing exactly what people depend upon the local Red Cross to do.
"We responded to two house fires over that weekend involving four families," said Executive Director Mary Dooley, "and we continued in the following weeks to help the families who needed Red Cross assistance.On that same weekend, nine of our disaster volunteers took the training to be supervisors on disaster assignments and another one of our disaster volunteers was up in Fargo helping with the massive flood relief effort.
"It's just what we do," the local director added "because that's our mission: to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies."
Iowa Rivers Chapter serves five counties: Tama, Hardin, Jasper, Marshall and Poweshiek.
While several displays and events were especially scheduled during Red Cross Month to spotlight all aspects of what the local Red Cross chapter does, and some businesses flew the Red Cross flag to show their support of Red Cross, many activities occur throughout the year without much fanfare.
The president of the United States proclaims Red Cross Month each year in recognition of the vital role that the American Red Cross plays, not only in disaster but in several other areas that deal with emergencies.
"Red Cross is not a government agency," said Dooley, "but we are designated by Congress as the official link between our military and the families of our military personnel. That means that whenever an emergency message needs to be sent from a family here at home to their loved one in the military, even if that person is deployed half a world away, all it takes is a call to the local Red Cross.No matter what time of day or night it is, we verify the information and speed the message on its way to the Red Cross personnel stationed with that military unit."
The life-saving courses of the American Red Cross have for decades "set the bar" for CPR, First Aid, lifeguard and now AED training.Annually the local chapter trains more than 12,000 adults and youth in these lifesaving skills.
Dooley said that spring generally sees a peak in demand for their Basic Aid Training classes geared towards 4th and 5th graders. "The last months of the school year find us teaching safety skills to elementary students in State Center, Green Mountain, Tama and Newton."
And the Red Cross office in Marshalltown is busy now taking registrations for the Learn to Swim programs that it runs in State Center, Marshalltown and Tama/Toledo.
For more information about supporting the local Red Cross or becoming active with the Iowa Rivers Chapter, call Shirley Davis, director of volunteers, at the office at 753-3317 Ext. 5 or toll-free outside the Marshalltown calling area at 1-877-792-3808.