Red Cross is there to help community year round

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NATCHEZ — For volunteers with the American Red Cross’ Adams County chapter, giving back to their fellow man doesn’t just happen at Christmas — it’s a 365-day-long endeavor.

“All year long what we do is help families in times of disaster,” Chapter Executive Director Debra Davis said. “We help meet families’ needs if they experience a fire or flood or any damage from a storm such as hurricanes or tornadoes.”

Serving five counties in southwest Mississippi — Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Wilkinson and Amite — the Adams County chapter has the opportunity to help many people.

Email newsletter signup

But the organization cannot do the work without the generosity of the communities it serves.

“We’re trying to increase funds for the chapter,” Davis said. “That’s how we operate and help people — through donations.”

Armed with bags of clothes, foods, toys and hygiene products, the Red Cross uses the donations it receives to bring normalcy into the lives of people who experience the loss of their homes.

During these times, the Red Cross also offers money and hotel accommodations for people who have lost all their belongings due to natural and man-made disasters.

But not only does the organization offer a few of the comforts of home to people who need them most throughout the year, it also helps bring people home when they are most needed.

“We handle a lot of military calls where (people) need to contact their family member who is located overseas or at one of the military bases around the county if there is a death or illness in their family,” Davis said.

Aside from helping people get through personal losses, the Red Cross also teaches people how to survive and save lives.

“We have the health and safety classes for CPR, first aid, baby sitting training and life guarding, too,” Davis said.

This season the Red Cross is focusing on keeping people informed about how to prevent house fires and have a safe holiday season.

“At this time of the holiday there are so many fires,” Davis said. “What we want to do is send flyers out to all the counties in our area with fire and safety procedures that people need to be aware of.”

“Since I started in September, we’ve had a fire every week and a half, and now between the five counties, it has increased to where we have two fires a week,” Davis said.

Davis said tips such as keeping Christmas trees watered, turning off space heaters when sleeping and out of the house and keeping heaters away from forms of cloth such as curtains and blankets are just a few things to remember to stay safe.

In the last five months she’s worked with the Adams County chapter, Davis said she has seen over $7,000 spent out of the organization’s disaster fund from assisting at fire cases.

Davis said helping people on a daily basis is tiring, but the rewards of working at disaster sites is a rewarding experience that she hopes to share with new volunteers.

“The thing that gets me the most is the reaction you receive from the client,” Davis said. “I get the most from how appreciative they are. You are able to make a type of bond with (the people you help.)

Davis said at this point in the year, monetary contributions and donations are the most appreciated forms of giving and the most useful, as well.

However, starting in January, she hopes to see people volunteering their time with the chapter.

In January, we plan on having a live remote to solicit our volunteer base so we can start getting those individuals trained by the time our storm season begins in February,” Davis said.

Monetary donations can be made to the Red Cross by stopping by the office located at 211 N. Union St.

Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, but volunteers can be reached any hour of any day by calling 601-446-9910.

“The thing I always say is look at donating to the Red Cross as an insurance policy —it’s always good to have it there for when you least expect it,” Davis said. “You or your loved ones might be on the receiving end later.”