Before January, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Red Cross. Their logo was familiar to me, and I knew that they responded in times of crisis. I also knew they did blood drives. And, well, that was about the extent of my knowledge.
In late January, Mark began working in Volunteer Services at the Red Cross of Greater Chicago. My eyes have been opened to the tremendous work these people do, day in and day out – not to mention the capacity at which they’re able to respond, quickly, to disasters beyond my wildest imagining.
Take, for example, Hurricane Harvey, the largest natural disaster the United States has ever seen. Before Harvey even hit the ground, the American Red Cross was mobilized, with staff and volunteers in surrounding areas, ready to spring into action when they were needed.
When Harvey hit, the Red Cross had more than 80 tractor-trailer loads of cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen supplies, and cleaning supplies on the ground in Texas. They had supplies to shelter over 34,000 people on the ground, and supplies for an additional 18,000 people on the way. 200 Emergency Response Vehicles had been activated for the operation. They worked (and continue to work) with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses, and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and get help to people as quickly as possible. Because with something of this magnitude, it requires all hands on deck.
Meanwhile, local chapters of the Red Cross continue the tremendous things they always do in local communities. Blood drives. Fire alarm installations. Responding to local, smaller disasters. Providing support for the military, their family members, and veterans.
I’m in awe of their ability to do so much and to do it well.
Meanwhile, while Mark pours his heart into caring for those who need it most, Alice and I are at home trying to figure out how we, too, can help. So we bake lots of things to send to work with Mark, give lots of hugs and thank yous to the staff and volunteers, and still feel like we’re not doing enough.
So it’s time to return to my fundraising roots and lace up my running shoes. I haven’t run for about a year, so it’s not going to be pretty. I selected a race in January. In Chicago. (The F^3 Lake Half Marathon, to be exact.) So it’s going to be cold, and it’s going to be hard work. But nothing I’m about to take on compares to what so many in our country are experiencing right now. Running in really cold whether will never compare to sitting on your roof, waiting to be rescued. Or having all your formula and diapers destroyed and having no idea how you’ll care for your child. Running and fundraising feels like such a small thing. But of every dollar raised, 91 cents will go to helping with disaster relief, and all the other amazing things the Red Cross does. I couldn’t be prouder to show my support.
Mark, Alice, and I are grateful for your support and appreciate donations of any size!