Last Tuesday night, Kelsey Meyer bathed her four young sons, saw to it they brushed their teeth and got them ready for bed. As the young boys — ages 4, 6 and twins, 8 — delayed bedtime, a screaming tornado warning hit Mrs. Meyer’s phone. The young family quickly took shelter in their basement. Minutes later, an EF4 tornado tore through Perry County Missouri, killing a young man and injured 12 others. Huddled in the basement under a blanket, the family survived as shattered windows, debris and dirt showered them. Mrs. Meyer lost her Perryville home and her nearby childcare business.
Four days later Mrs. Meyer said she wanted the public to know about her experience. The young mother didn’t talk about all she had lost or what she and her family had been through. She didn’t talk about the terror the she felt as the tornado roared above them. The young mother had a preparedness message: “We should have had an emergency kit in the basement.”
“When the tornado passed, glass was everywhere and it was dark. We didn’t have power … We didn’t have shoes; we didn’t have a flashlight; we didn’t have clothes … and outside, glass everywhere and down powerlines … “
“I have an emergency kit in the basement of my preschool; if I had treated my family the way I treated my business …” and her voice trailed off.
Mrs. Meyer wants everyone to create an emergency kit. “You just don’t think it will happen to your family. We learned the hard way.”
The American Red Cross wants all families prepare for emergencies. Build your emergency kit and download the Red Cross Emergency App, which gives instant access to customizable weather alerts, safety tips and preparedness information in the palm of your hand.
During the holidays at a local veteran’s hospital, the father of an injured soldier read Red Cross holiday cards to his son. With a smile on his face, Spc. Blake DeLooach said it made him feel whole knowing people care about him. The injured soldier spent the holidays in the hospital and thankfully, was able to have his father with him. The cards he received from the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign made the difficult season much brighter for DeLooach and his family.
For most of us, the holidays are a time for joyous family reunions and celebration. However, for military families, it can be hard to celebrate when loved ones are so far from home. During this holiday season, many service members can’t spend it will loved ones; they are will be overseas and others may be in local veteran hospitals.
As part of the American Red Cross service to armed forces, the St. Louis chapter is once again encouraging the local community to send holiday wishes to active military, their families and veterans in homes and hospitals. The Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign and Holiday Toy Drive are two great ways to show support and bring comfort to military members this holiday season.
This Holiday Mail campaign gives organizations, companies, schools and individuals an opportunity to honor our servicemen and women by sending cards. Homemade and signed cards can be sent to the Red Cross and events can be orchestrated where cards are made and signed.
Delooach’s father said the American Red Cross provides so much help military and until something like this happens, you just don’t know all that they do. He said, “They are a magnificent help to all of the soldiers and their families.” Something as simple as a holiday card brings more meaning to military members and veterans than most people know.
In addition to the Holiday Mail campaign, the St. Louis chapter will once again be partnering with the St. Louis Cardinals and KMOV for the annual Holiday Toy Drive to benefit local military families. This year’s drive will take place on November 30 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ballpark Village parking lot, at the corner of 8th and Clark in Downtown St. Louis. Volunteers from each organization will collect new, unwrapped toys for kids under 12 and gift cards for kids over 13.
Our military families deserve our thanks and support every day,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional American Red Cross CEO. “We are happy to have this opportunity to show our appreciation for the daily sacrifices they make.”
Part of the Red Cross mission is to ensure that all members of our armed services and their families find support and comfort whenever needed. In order to achieve this mission, many local chapters throughout the nation will be working hard this year to provide comfort to military men, women, and families during the holiday season. There is no better time to show support for our troops and let them know they are cared for and appreciated.
Unfortunately when disasters strike, up to 40 percent of businesses never recover. It is vital to each organization’s survival to be prepared for emergencies. On September 22, the American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri will hold its second Preparedness Academy of the year. The Academy is for large and small businesses, schools, government agencies, universities, healthcare, faith-based, and nonproﬁt organizations to better prepare for emergencies.
This American Red Cross summit teaches participants how to reduce risks and build a culture of preparedness before disasters strike. Regional experts provide their expertise on various topics, such as evacuation planning, business resiliency, active shooters, geological hazards, and transportation accidents. Over 200 representatives of local organizations attended the March Preparedness Academy, many of whom will return in September. The March topics included workplace and school violence response, cyber security and how to respond to the media following an emergency.
Rajan Taylor who attended the March event said he will definitely be back this September to learn more about how to protect his employees and business when disaster strikes. He said the event gave great information he can bring back to his staff and build better emergency programs.
Mayor Monica Huddleston of Greendale, MO attended a previous Red Cross Preparedness Academy.
“My reason for coming today (was) to enable my City of Greendale to better implement the written plan that we have.” She said the plan they have is great, but she wanted to be prepared to implement the plan if necessary. She noted that she had learned great information, which will allow her to accomplish this.
Mike Altepeter from the Washington University in St. Louis said he attended the event to learn how to best serve the students, faculty, and staff in the case of an emergency. He says Washington University chose this event in particular because they know that the American Red Cross provides quality information and resources.
John Butler of KMOX said, “Today I attended the Red Cross disaster seminar. It
was incredible, it was the first one, the room was packed, and the information was outstanding.”
It is so important to keep our community safe and prepared, which is why the Red Cross works hard to provide organizations with the most important and up to date information and safety resources. The Preparedness Academy is an eight hour event that includes a wide range of presentations and speakers, exhibits, as well as two meals and snacks for those attending. There is more detailed information about this event on the American Red Cross website, along with the registration form. Let’s keep our community safe and prepared!
I started to donate blood only a few years ago, after my sister received a lifesaving blood transfusion. She had been hospitalized for many days and needed a transfusion when her red blood cell count became dangerously low. I would have done anything to thank the person whose blood we received, but I decided an even better way to show my appreciation would be to start donating myself.
People who donate blood are heroes who have the potential to save more than one life with each donated pint. Though it seems one pint of blood goes a long way, and it can, there are cases where people need multiple pints of blood at a time. A victim of a car accident sometimes needs as many as 100 pints of blood and there are also many people with autoimmune diseases who require frequent blood transfusions. Sometimes during chemotherapy a cancer patient will need blood every day.
Even with the numerous blood drives that occur nationwide, there is still not enough blood for all of the people who need it. Blood is something that cannot be manufactured; it is only available because of generous donors. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood and if everyone donated blood who could, we could save thousands of more lives than we already are.
Blood is also one of the easiest things to donate. The process of donating takes about an hour, but the actual donation only takes around ten minutes. You can stop by after work, attend a weekend blood drive, or schedule a quick appointment whenever it is convenient for you. The Red Cross wants the process to go as smooth as possible which is why they always provide snacks and beverages to their donors. The American Red Cross website also has great tips for a successful donation and provides wonderful information on the blood donation process in general. If you are not sure whether you are eligible to donate blood, be sure to check their website to view the eligibility requirements.
By donating blood, you will become someone’s hero. While there is not enough blood on a national level, the city of St. Louis itself needs more blood donors. Those who can donate have the amazing opportunity to save a life of someone in their community. For me, this is more than an opportunity, but rather an obligation. I always feel great after donating, knowing I am helping someone who is in vital need of blood. Donating blood is simple, yet so important, and I wish I had had someone to explain this importance to me years ago so I could have started donating sooner.
Red Cross volunteer, Courtney, began to choked up as she told the story of one of her most unforgettable house fires. An older adult women was living alone and her daughter and neighbors believed she had been at home all day. The woman was not answering her phone and the firefighters had searched the house multiple times in an attempt to find her. When the entire house went up in flames, the firefighters and Red Cross volunteers could do nothing more than wait.
Courtney expressed the enormous sense of relief she felt when the woman showed up to the house from her afternoon outing. Unfortunately, Courtney has seen a handful of casualties during her 15 years and she was extremely thankful that this would not be another one. Most people are devastated to see their belongings and homes burned to any degree, and understandably so. But this woman was different in that she showed minimal concern for the material objects inside her home and was merely thankful for the support of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT).
Courtney has been with the Red Cross for 15 years. After retiring from her full time job, she decided that she wanted to give back to the community and volunteer for an organization she truly believed in. She found that place here with the American Red Cross and represents millions of other volunteers who have also become passionate and dedicated to their volunteer work with this organization. While numerous volunteer positions are available with the Red Cross, Courtney decided to volunteer with the Disaster Action Team. She is among the first to respond to local house fires and has given countless hours of her time to helping victims of disasters.
Courtney has seen it all over the years as she shared stories with me of some of her most memorable house fires. Though these stories are all so different, a constant I noticed is the high regard Courtney holds for firefighters. Courtney told me about an evening fire at an apartment complex where firefighters carried about 20 people down the ladders on their backs in the pouring rain. She also remembered a house fire where the fire department knew the family was safe, but went in when the family expressed concern for their cat who was trapped inside. The cat, who was found hiding in the basement, was carried out of the burning building with an oxygen mask around its mouth. These courageous firefighters are truly everyday heroes who risk their lives to save the lives of others.
Being a DAT volunteer can be challenges, but at the end of the day, Courtney says the hugs and appreciation the team receives make it all worth it. While she always hopes there are no house fires, Courtney is prepared to lead the team to where ever their assistance is needed.
Published by Hannah Goldstein
Every year on the Fourth of July, this country celebrates our independence from Britain. What better way to spend this holiday than with the veterans who sacrificed so much to maintain that freedom. Across the nation, the American Red Cross volunteers serve in 153 VA hospitals where men and women who fought for our country receive care. The Red Cross recognizes these veterans as the American heroes they are.
Here in St. Louis I joined other volunteers to make sure our veterans were able to celebrate a joyous Independence Day. For the past seven years, the St. Louis Red Cross has hosted bingo and lunch for veterans at the Jefferson Barrack’s VA Hospital. Volunteers passed out t-shirts, assisted residents to and from the event space, and made sure they had as much of the delicious Sugarfire Smokehouse BBQ as they desired. With the wonderful food, live music, and competitive bingo games, the day went extremely well. I was thankful for the many volunteers who wanted to make sure these veterans had a Fourth of July to remember.
As the veterans left the event, they had chocolate bars, Red Cross shirts and huge smiles on their faces. Those smiles along with the gratitude they expressed made the event completely worth it. I was so proud to represent the Red Cross and all that the organization stands for.
Published by: Hannah Goldstein
When the late December floods hit rural Missouri, a veteran of two foreign wars (Korea and Vietnam) lost his home and all his possessions. In frigid temperatures, this nearly blind American hero slept in his car for over a week, until he visited a Red Cross organized Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC). The Red Cross set up seven MARCs after the holiday floods so those affected could receive support and service from dozens of relief organizations at one location. At the Jefferson County MARC, the Red Cross registered the veteran at a local hotel, provided money for meals and helped him begin his recovery plan. He was just one of thousands the Red Cross assisted after the late December floods. By the middle of February, the Red Cross had provided 707 overnight shelter stays; served nearly 57,000 meals and snacks and distributed 27,919 relief items including shovels, rakes, gloves and tarps for those affected. What would have happened to this veteran had the Red Cross not responded. Please support our lifesaving work – donate online at Redcross.org.