American Red Cross meets needs in times of disaster

Published 12:02 am Saturday, December 3, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT From left, American Red Cross’ Ann Sternberg, Debra Davis, Gwendolyn Johnson and Ashanta Fountain place donated items inside bags for victims of fires or weather related disasters on Thursday.

NATCHEZ — The American Red Cross responds quickly in the case of a fire or natural disaster.

But what if the disaster were at your house?

Debra Davis, director of the Adams County chapter of the American Red Cross, said monetary donations go a long way in caring for our neighbors in a time of disaster.

“If there is a fire in the middle of the night, we provide families with food and clothing to meet their immediate needs,” Davis said. “We also provide lodging. It’s on a short-term basis.”

The Friend a Fire Family campaign allows clubs, organizations and churches to join together to support families who turn to Red Cross in times of disaster.

Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, communications officer for the Mississippi Red Cross, said individuals or groups can choose a level of donation, and know that the money will be used to directly assist a fire family.

“The campaign was really successful last year,” Jeuitt said. “A lot of church families came together.”

Jeuitt said $1,200 is the beginning level for the Friend a Fire Family campaign.

The Red Cross takes donations of new personal care items as well. Items are used to build comfort kits of victims of disaster.

“We always can use personal hygiene items we give to each client, like toothpaste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, hair supplies, Kleenex, Q-tips, diapers and ladies hygiene items,” Davis said.

Clothing is not accepted.

Another Red Cross campaign, called the Holiday Giving Catalog, is a gift that works two ways.

“With the holiday giving catalog, people can shop for different items,” Jeuitt said. “I think of it as the gift for the person who has everything. It’s designed for people to make a donation in honor of friend or family member.”

She said a holiday greeting card will be sent to the individual for whom the gift is named.

“They will say something like, ‘In honor of you, I provided the Red Cross with blankets for disaster victims. People can also purchase military comfort kids in honor of loved ones.”

Jeuitt said all gifts are tax deductible.

Davis added that the biggest wish for the Red Cross, behind donations, is more volunteers from the community.

“We definitely need volunteers,” Davis said. “We will train them.”

Call the local chapter at 601-442-3656 for more information.