Red Cross looking for heroes to help it continue to aid victims of disaster in Mississippi
By Angela Rogalski, print journalism graduate, Meek School of Journalism and New Media
When Samuel Woods and his wife went to bed on Sept. 2, 2012, they had no idea that they would wake up to their entire upstairs engulfed in flames. There was a thunderstorm going on when they laid down that night, but what happened a short time later was not something they ever expected.
“It was around 10:30 p.m. when it actually happened,” Woods said, his voice strained from the obvious memories. “My wife and I were in bed when we heard this extremely loud crack of thunder, followed by a long, bright streak of lightning. It scared us both pretty bad, and we both jumped from the sound.”
Woods said they didn’t really think too much about it, especially when he tried the TV and found that the electricity was still on. They lay back down, and in fact were almost asleep, when about 30 minutes later, an acrid smell hit his nose. Jumping up, he opened the bedroom door, stepped out into the hallway and looked upward; the entire upstairs floor was consumed by flames. The heat and the smell were so intense that all he could think about was getting himself and his wife out of the house and to safety as quickly as possible.
By the time they got outside, it was raining terribly, fire trucks were on the scene as fast as possible, but it was too late. Mr. Woods and his wife stood out in the downpour and watched their house burn to the ground.
“We lost everything,” Woods said.
But soon after the fire, the American Red Cross came to the Woods’ assistance and provided them with a place to stay and money for necessities.
“They are an amazing organization,” Woods said. “I just can’t say enough nice things about the American Red Cross. They set us up in a hotel and gave us a debit card on which we could purchase essentials that we needed. Our insurance kicked in after three days, but a representative from the Red Cross called to check on us even after the insurance took over. They’re just a great group of folks.”
When another local resident lost her home to fire in November, 2012, the Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross was there for her as well. Lurlean Houston’s home on College Hill Road burned to the ground. A friend called Mrs. Houston from Meridian and immediately told her to go to the American Red Cross for help. Houston went to the local office at 2706 West Oxford Loop, and the chapter manager, Jennifer Coleman, was there to offer assistance.
“They gave me vouchers to get food from The Pantry,” Houston said. “I received vouchers for Interfaith and also for a local church. They also gave me a Master Card with $180 on it. I used that to replace personal clothing items that I had lost in the fire. I also received vouchers for the Salvation Army.”
The American Red Cross has been providing compassionate, caring assistance to people in need for more than 130 years. From disaster relief and health and safety services, to being one of the nation’s top blood providers; the American Red Cross strives to supply the help needed in a disaster.
The Northwest Mississippi Chapter services 17 counties, including Lafayette. Locally, the American Red Cross stands ready to help when disaster strikes.
As part of its ongoing efforts to continue to help victims of disasters, The American Red Cross, Mississippi Region, has just launched its 2013 Heroes Campaign. This endeavor is held annually and is a way for the organization to raise the funds necessary to help support local disaster relief, services to the military, preparedness and training, and other critical needs.
To be a Red Cross hero, you must pledge to raise $1000. This money is crucial and can cover the cost of:
*167 blankets for people affected by a disaster.
*Clothing for nine children who lost everything in a house fire.
*Meals and lodging for five days for a family of three displaced from their home.
*A babysitting skills class for 14 youth.
*Training 11 individuals to learn how to help someone in a cardiac or breathing emergency.
‘Heroes’ can be individuals, groups, or businesses fundraising or donating the amount of their pledge.
“As a local community campaign, Heroes challenges everyone to become involved in the work of the American Red Cross,” Mississippi Region CEO, Sandra Hodge said. “While individuals, groups and businesses can achieve Hero status through a direct contribution, the Red Cross also encourages creative community approaches to the campaign to make it fun and engaging.”
Financial support of the American Red Cross is tax deductible and an average of 91 cents of every dollar goes directly to their humanitarian efforts.
To find out how you can get involved with the 2013 Heroes Campaign or to make a contribution, or find out how you can donate your time to the American Red Cross, please contact Burkes at 228-896-4511or or firstname.lastname@example.org.