Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Families of Highway Fatalities host statewide blood drive in memory of collision victims

In South Carolina, about 800 lives are claimed each year by traffic collisions. Families of Highway Fatalities and the American Red Cross are asking South Carolinians to remember those individuals lost on South Carolina highways by giving the gift of life this holiday season, at a time when blood donations are especially important.

Donors can give blood from Monday, Dec. 28 to Thursday, Dec. 31 at five Red Cross donation centers in Charleston (Mount Pleasant and West Ashley), Columbia, Florence and Myrtle Beach. As a thank you for their donation, presenting donors will receive a long-sleeve Red Cross commemorative T-shirt, while supplies last.

“Families of Highway Fatalities, an organization dedicated to providing resources for families who have lost loved ones in traffic collisions, has partnered with the Red Cross on blood drives for several years,” said Phil Riley, Director of  the SCDPS Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs. “The blood drives offer members an opportunity to remember their loved ones, while also raising awareness of the need for blood donations.”

The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is an especially critical time for the Red Cross, as holiday festivities and travel can keep donors from giving blood. But the need for blood is constant. Trauma patients, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all need blood. There is no substitute for blood, and volunteer donors are the only source.

Traci Wolfe of Chapin will honor her son, Kenny, through the blood drive. Kenny died in 2007 at age 18 in a motor vehicle collision. Kenny, who loved fishing and sports of every kind, had a huge heart for others, his mother said. The family keeps his memory alive through the Kenny Wolfe Foundation, which raises awareness about teen fatalities in collisions, and by encouraging others to give blood in his name.

“By giving blood in Kenny’s memory, it’s almost like Kenny is still here and still sharing,” Traci said.

Donors can make appointments to give blood and platelets at five locations:

2751 Bull St., Columbia

1555 W. Palmetto St., Florence

920 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Mount Pleasant

3681 Renee Drive, Unit #4, Myrtle Beach

2000 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., Charleston

To make an appointment and for more information, download the free Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To learn more about the Families of Highway Fatalities, visit http://www.scdps.gov/fhf.

Items and offers are nontransferable and are not redeemable for cash.

How to donate blood
To make an appointment, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can use RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a computer or laptop. Visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass to get started.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Red Cross Provides Critical Assistance Across Multiple States After Tornadoes, Flooding Force Thousands from Homes

The American Red Cross launched a massive relief response across multiple states in the wake of the deadly storms which have been hammering communities across most of the country since before the Christmas holiday.

Several days of tornadoes, flooding and winter storms left behind damaged homes, downed power lines and closed highways. Red Cross and community shelters are open in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The Red Cross is also supporting families in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi due to severe weather and flooding. 

More than 1,100 homes have been damaged by storms across the affected areas and the number could increase. Hundreds of trained Red Cross disaster workers left their loved ones and homes over the holiday and opened shelters for those affected, providing meals, distributing comfort kits and clean-up supplies and meeting with those affected to help them plan their next steps.

DANGER NOT OVER The storm is expected to continue to affect people over the next several days with flash flooding, heavy snow, ice and freezing rain. The Red Cross urges people in the path of these storms to get ready now. Information about what people should do to prepare their household for possible flooding, tornadoes, winter storms and other weather emergencies is available at redcross.org.

PLEASE HELP NOW The Red Cross will be helping people affected by this storm for weeks and months to come, while at the same time responding to other emergencies, including helping people whose homes are destroyed by fires. The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States – the vast majority of which are home fires.

People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Santa Spreads Cheer with a Little Help from Red Cross Elves

‘Tis the season for giving! 

Our region’s smallest chapter of the American Red Cross, the Northern South Carolina chapter, truly embraced the Christmas spirit this year by deciding to adopt four families for the holidays as a chapter – one for each county they serve.
Headquartered in Rock Hill, SC, the Northern SC chapter covers York, Lancaster, Chester, and Chesterfield Counties.

Volunteers, staff, and board members came together for their first annual Adopt-a-Family program. Working with Pilgrim’s Inn, a local homeless shelter and daycare center, Red Crossers bought gifts for needy families with members ranging from 4-28 years old. Pilgrim’s Inn will anonymously deliver the gifts to the families on Christmas morning. Our dedicated volunteers ran this venture from start to finish – from raising the money, to shopping for the gifts, to then delivering them to Pilgrim’s Inn. 

The Red Cross also wanted to bring good tidings and some tasty treats to the children being helped by Pilgrim’s Inn. One of the chapter’s seasoned disaster volunteers, Ray Gannon, regularly helps Santa be in more than one place at the same time, entertaining children during the holiday season wearing a signature red suit. 
With his trusty elves, Santa “flew”  one of the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) to the facility during the children’s lunch hour to spread cheer. Sauntering with a jolly pep in his step down the colorful hallway, ol’ Saint Nick shook his jingle bells, letting out a commanding “Ho! Ho! Ho!” 

Escorted by Pilgrim’s Inn staff, Santa made his way through each classroom one by one, bringing with him pure merriment. The children jumped with joy as Claus distributed the sugary confections from his red bag. The children had plenty of hugs for their jolly visitor.

The chapter also donated 20 cases of bottled water to augment the Pilgrim's Inn food pantry.

Happy Holidays from your local Red Cross.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Give a Meaningful Gift for the Holidays—Give Blood

The air outside is crisp and the holidays are around the corner. When you’re not rushing through your holiday to-do list or bouncing from one holiday party to the next, it’s a breath of fresh air to sit and enjoy the season. It’s a time to stay in and bake cookies, sip hot cocoa, curl up by the fire and spend time with loved ones. But for some, this time will be spent in the hospital waiting on blood products to help them get well.

Each day, the American Red Cross needs 14,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. During the holiday season, donations often decline because donors are busier with holiday activities and travelling to see loved ones. The decline could have a serious impact for hospital patients depending on generous blood and platelet donations.

While making special holiday memories with friends and family this season, consider giving a meaningful gift to someone in need. By donating blood or platelets with the Red Cross, you could give a hospital patient in need the chance to make their own memories. 

Donors can give blood at blood drives occurring almost every day across South Carolina. On Friday, Dec. 18, join the Red Cross Board of Directors for its first-ever holiday blood drive in Columbia. The drive is 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St. All presenting donors will receive a free Red Cross long-sleeve T-shirt, while supplies last.

This season, create memories and start new traditions. Make donating blood or platelets part of your holiday to-do list. To find a donation opportunity near you, download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. You can also help support the Red Cross by asking others to donate or creating a SleevesUp virtual blood drive.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Families Learn Home Fire Safety in Clio

On November 28, more than 30 members of the Clio Fire Department and the American Red Cross teamed together for a one-day home fire preparedness outreach blitz across the Town of Clio, South Carolina. More than 100 families are now safer thanks to the safety education and more than 300 working smoke alarms that they received in their homes on Saturday from Red Cross volunteers, firefighters and other community partners as part of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.

“Together with our partners in the Town of Clio and Marion County, the Red Cross helping to protect people and prepare them for emergencies like a fire in their home,” said Louis Palm, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Eastern SC.

Families living in the Town of Clio who would like a free home fire safety visit can contact the Clio Fire Department at 843-586-8323.


South Carolina consistently ranks within the top ten states for home fire deaths per capita and the Red Cross assists more than 7,100 people a year, 2,000 of them children, after home fires.

 The one-day blitz was part of a larger campaign by the Red Cross aimed at reducing deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent. Since the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign launched in October 2014, the Red Cross and its partners have installed nearly 6,500 smoke alarms in communities across South Carolina.

The American Red Cross and its partners, including the South Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal, the South Carolina Firefighters Association, and local fire departments, are working together to save lives, reduce injuries, and preserve property. Together, they are keeping families safe across South Carolina by installing smoke alarms and teaching people how to lessen their chances of suffering from a home fire.

The Red Cross and its partners also are asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.


  • Visit redcross.org/SC to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. 
  • Find the location of smoke alarm installation events or to become a volunteer, contact the Eastern SC Chapter of the Red Cross at 843-477-0020 or visit redcross.org/sc/homefires
  • Donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to wildfires and more.


photos by Dennis James

Monday, November 30, 2015

Connecting Military Families in Times of Joy and Sorrow

When a military family experiences a crisis, the American Red Cross is there to help. Wherever their military service takes them, military members can rest assured that the Red Cross will deliver notification of an emergency such as the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, as well as the good news of the birth of a military member's child or grandchild.

On a consistent basis, more than 110,000 military families reach out to the American Red Cross for emergency assistance each year. In South Carolina alone, an average of 24 emergency communications are sent each day for members of the military and their families.

A military member or a member of their family needing to initiate an emergency message can go to redcross.org/HeroCareNetwork or call 877-272-7337. After a message is started, a highly-trained emergency communication specialist will begin the emergency verification process required to deliver it to the military member’s command. The secure and free online service option will also let users track the progress of an emergency message from verification through delivery.

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea and at embassies and remote locations. Knowing in advance that military families will be able to reach their loved one and have access to financial and other types of assistance during an emergency brings peace of mind to families who are separated.

Regardless of how families initiate an emergency message, military members can depend on the Red Cross to relay urgent messages to service members serving anywhere in the world.  

For more information regarding Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces visit redcross.org/military

Sunday, November 29, 2015

American Red Cross Pillowcase Project Helps South Carolina Children Prepare for Emergencies

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, affecting millions of people. Many children were traumatized by their memories of the storm’s fury so the American Red Cross developed a program using something as simple as a pillowcase to help these children feel safer and more prepared for a disaster.

The Pillowcase Project is a free interactive preparedness program designed for youth ages 8 to 11 and offered by Red Cross chapters to youth in schools, after-school programs, and at other sites and events. In South Carolina more than 5,000 students have learned the best ways to stay safe, how to handle stressful situations, and what tools they can use at home to prepare for emergencies.

Children learn how to create their own emergency supply kit by packing essential items in a pillowcase which is easy to carry in an emergency. They can decorate and personalize their pillowcase and each child receives a “My Preparedness Workbook” and a certificate of completion at the end of their training.

Through the Pillowcase Project, children in grades three through five learn how weather hazards occur, how to get ready for and to cope with emergencies. They also learn how to develop a way to contact household members in an emergency situation, how to develop fire escape plans and emergency contact cards and how important it is to share what they learn with members of their household so everyone can be prepared..  

The curriculum meets many of the Common Core State Standards for grades 3-5.  For more information about The Pillowcase Project and how your school, after-school program or community group can participate, contact your local Red Cross.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Semper Gumby

Story by Mary Reardon, FJRCVolunTEEN@gmail.com, (803) 429-1918

Flexibility is key when volunteering; the Red Cross volunteer coordinators encouraged us to remember this in their email and during our initial/welcome briefing.   Unusual and rewarding opportunities emerge and lead one to see diverse aspects of the mission at hand.

In the waning days of disaster relief operations in SC, a group of 21 volunteers checked in to perform bulk distribution at a warehouse on Saturday, October 18, 2015.  After our initial briefing, twelve of us were diverted to support two alternate missions.  The first involved forming five teams and driving to disparate areas hard-hit by the flood to distribute/post flyers at public venues to inform residents of the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC).  The MARC would be established in a centralized shopping center to provide recovery resources for people affected by flooding.  We were briefed to identify locations where the affected public would probably patronize and get approval from managers before posting the flyers.  The teams encountered a wide variety of circumstances and employed their innovation to assess the areas and approach the public.   Volunteers posted flyers in libraries, pharmacies, gas stations, grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, churches, strip malls, and fire stations.  In one instance however, a group of college students were posed with a unique situation.  Their zone included an area where many homeless people camped along the river.  They recounted the devastation as the affected residents told them bodies were still being recovered from the woods. 

On the lighter side, the teams reunited at Williams Brice Stadium to collect monetary donations for two hours, leading up to the University of SC and Vanderbilt football game.  We retired our Red Cross disaster relief vests and donned a garnet "Together" t-shirt.  Paired with another volunteer, we signed for a red collection bucket and were dispatched to different gates.  Over the next two hours, we encountered many generous fans.  Monetary donations included change and $1-100 bills.  As the game time approached, fans donated surplus football tickets to sell and proceeds were added to the buckets.  After our buckets were turned in, volunteers were given tickets to enjoy the game. 

On Sunday, October 19, 2015, the VolunTEENs supported the MARC, established at the Dutch Square Shopping Center.  Two adult members checked-in clients and the VolunTEENs served as ambassadors.  We later learned the "ambassador program" was used by Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 9-11 NYC MARCs.  One ambassador was paired with each client and accompanied the client as they met with various relief agency reps: this ensured support and eased transitions.  The high-school aged VolunTEENs did a wonderful job; they were professional, empathetic and flexible.  Some VolunTEENs also assisted "Save the Children" representatives by supervising young children who accompanied their parents/guardians.

For information on joining or starting a Red Cross Club, visit www.redcross.org/sc/volunteer and contact your local Volunteer Manager. 

Semper Gumby!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks: It’s Not Just a Holiday Thing

This time of the year, many of us pause to give thanks for something in our lives. But for those of us that work at the Red Cross, we give thanks each and every day for the dedicated people in our lives that make our mission possible: Volunteers.

Our volunteers choose to generously donate their time, skills, and passion because they believe in our mission. They want to help us, help those in need, and help each other.

It’s because of our volunteers that we are able to respond when a fire department calls us to help a family in the middle of the night. It’s because of them that we can connect members of the military and their families in times of crisis and in joy. Without our volunteers the Red Cross could not provide life-saving blood to local hospitals. Volunteers teach our community what to do in an emergency, from giving CPR to save a life, to helping feed and shelter those affected by disasters.   

On this Thanksgiving Day, all of us at the Red Cross want to deliver a sincere “THANK YOU” to our amazing volunteers, partners, and donors, all of whom make it possible to help our friends, neighbors, and communities in times of need. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Safe Travels for Thanksgiving Holiday

Millions of people will travel to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones and the American Red Cross has steps they can follow to help make sure they have a safe trip. The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest times of the year for travelers and we want to make sure everyone remains safe on their trip


If your plans include driving, check the weather along their route and plan for travel around any storms that may be coming. Drivers should be well rested and alert and give their full attention to the road – no cell phones. Other driving safety tips include:
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather. Don’t overdrive your headlights.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

If winter weather threatens and you become stuck in the snow, these tips are for you:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.


It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Red Cross First Aid App 

You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App to have information at their fingertips if an emergency occurs. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones, and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps

From our Red Cross family to yours - Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Home Fire Preparedness in South Carolina

Last year, 79 people in South Carolina lost their lives in home fires. In just minutes a family can lose everything, from their belongings to their home, and most tragically, a loved one. Home fires occur more often than most people realize; in South Carolina, the Red Cross responds to requests from local fire departments every 3.9 hours to come to the aid of victims affected by home fires.

The American Red Cross, along with its partners, including the South Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal, the South Carolina Firefighters Association, and local fire departments, is announcing a home fire preparedness initiative to save lives, reduce injuries, and preserve property. Together, they will be keeping families safe across South Carolina by installing 50,000 smoke alarms over the next two years and teaching people how to lessen their chances of suffering from a home fire.

“Red Cross has been a tremendous partner to our state, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the work they are doing, along with the State Fire Marshal’s office, in making sure South Carolinians have access to smoke alarms. The 50,000 smoke alarms that the Red Cross will install is a huge step, but this fantastic program will also help to bring awareness to an important issue facing our state,” said Governor Nikki Haley.

South Carolina consistently ranks within the top ten states for home fire deaths per capita and the Red Cross assists more than 7,100 people a year, 2,000 of them children, after home fires.

“Heating is the second leading cause of home fires in South Carolina and we see a spike in home fires as the weather gets colder,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross, Palmetto SC Region. “Home fire safety, especially heading into the most fire-prone time of the year, is a key preparedness component for families across our state.”

South Carolina has been selected as one of the few innovative home fire prevention initiatives being rolled out across the United States. The initiative, and the best practices from it, will be used as a model for communities across the country to be better prepared for, and safer from, home fires. As part of the initiative, the Red Cross, fire departments, and community groups will be canvassing neighborhoods, installing smoke alarms and educating their neighbors on how to protect themselves and their families from home homes. This builds on the more than 5,000 smoke alarms installed in South Carolina in the past twelve months, which resulted in fourteen lives being saved.

“This initiative will significantly reduce deaths and injuries due to home fires and educate our community members on what to do in case a home fire or other disaster does strike,” explained Welch.

“This comprehensive program will help people all across South Carolina be safer from home fires,” said State Fire Marshal Robert Polk. “We are proud to partner with such great and diverse organizations to meet the needs of communities throughout the state.”

To join the Red Cross, local firefighters, and others who want to give back in their community, visit RedCross.org/SC and click on Home Fire Preparedness.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Give Thanks by Giving Back: Donate Blood

This holiday season, the American Red Cross urges individuals to give something that means something – a blood or platelet donation. This simple, potentially lifesaving act can give patients in need another holiday season with loved ones. 

Blood donations can decline during the holidays, including Thanksgiving, because people are busier and may not always have time to donate. But patients don’t get a break from needing blood.

Blood donors with all types, especially O negative, B negative and A negative, are urged to give. Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed. 

To encourage donations around Thanksgiving, those who come to give blood or platelets from Nov. 25-29 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross mixing spoon with recipes from celebrity chefs John Besh, Richard Blais, Rocco DiSpirito, Mike Isabella, Ellie Krieger and Ali Larter, while supplies last.

Patients like Tymia McCullough of Georgetown, S.C. depend upon blood donors. The bubbly 9-year-old has sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become abnormally shaped. Sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. The misshapen cells can get stuck when traveling through small blood vessels, causing pain or other serious problems. 

As a result of sickle cell anemia, Tymia has been hospitalized 35 times, received 31 blood transfusions and had a spleenectomy. Despite her frequent hospital visits, she works hard to be an amazing big sister to her younger siblings and keep up with any school work she misses. Her hard work has paid off: She’s an honor roll student. 

Tymia shows persistence in many ways. She was hospitalized just three weeks before the Miss South Carolina Jr. Pre-Teen pageant, but she persevered and began rehearsing right away after she was released. When she received the Miss South Carolina crown, she burst into tears. “It was the first time I've ever cried out, not because of the pain I was in, but because I achieved something I worked so hard for.”

Without the generosity of blood donors, Tymia would not be the strong 9-year-old she is today. Her goal is to inspire other people with her story: "I want to show other kids that no matter what life throws at you, you can achieve anything with hard work, dedication and a smile."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lifesaving son is a hero to Mom

Teresa Gray’s son knew what to do.

Ms. Gray has ALS, which causes her difficulty in swallowing. She and her family were at her parents’ house in Seneca for dinner on Christmas Eve 2014.  “We were all at the table, the extended family, and I was eating Brunswick stew, without the corn, because I’m not supposed to eat corn,” Ms. Gray said. “All of a sudden, something was stuck in my throat. I tried to cough and see if I could get it down, and that didn’t help. I left the table and went into the kitchen and started coughing harder. My husband was with me. There were children in the kitchen eating and I didn’t want them watching this so I walked back to the bathroom. My husband came with me and started hitting me on the back to dislodge the food. He said my lips were turning blue.”

Clark Gray, 17, a senior at Eastside High School and a lifeguard, came to his mother’s side. “I told Dad to get out of the way and I used abdominal thrusts,” he said. Clark had received lifesaving training through the Red Cross and StarGuard.

A piece of sausage popped out of his mother’s throat. “Clark was entirely composed,” Ms. Gray said. “It was pretty unbelievable. Doing that on your mom, that’s not’s easy. I told him: You’re my hero.”

Would you know what to do in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? With an emphasis on hands-on learning, our First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life. All course options align with OSHA’s Best Practicesfor Workplace First Aid Training Programs and are available in classroom and blended learning formats. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Registration Now Open for Seventh Annual RiverTown Reindeer Race

The RiverTown Reindeer Race, presented by TD Ameritrade1, along with TNT Enterprises, ABC News 15, Gator 107.9, and HTC Digital Cable, will be held beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 along a tree-lined route in downtown Conway. In its seventh year, the race is a fundraising event of the American Red Cross of Eastern South Carolina and its Red Cross Rescue Racers program.

The 5 K (3.1 mile) race is directed by Coastal Timing. Racers, which include runners and walkers of all ages, will receive awards presented to the top three overall male and female finishers, as well as the top three finishers in each age category. Entry fee is $25 before Dec. 3 and $30 on race day, with registration held from 7-7:45 a.m. at the Conway Marina Park on 2nd Avenue.

Pre-registered participants will receive a specially designed Reindeer Race T-shirt, as long as supplies last. Register online at www.runsignup.com or contact Race Director Dr. Jim Troxell at drjtroxell@gmail.com.

Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate in this race, which is filled with jingle bells and holiday music provided by Gator 107.9. Part of the fun includes dressing for the occasion in holiday attire that can include Santa hats, elf ears and reindeer antlers.

Mile marker and other sponsorships are still available. For information, contact Red Cross Rescue Racers Program Manager Angela Nicholas at aknicholas28@gmail.com or call (843) 650-0145.

The Red Cross Rescue Racers is the official charity training team of the Myrtle Beach Marathon and consists of individuals training to run or walk the half (13.1 miles) or full (26.2 miles) Myrtle Beach Marathon March 5, 2016. In exchange for the professional training received, each member agrees to raise money for Red Cross disaster services. The American Red Cross offers immediate emergency assistance during times of disaster.

To register for the race click here!

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/sc or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossSC

(1) About TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation:
Millions of investors and independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) have turned to TD Ameritrade’s (NYSE: AMTD) technology, people and education to help make investing and trading easier to understand and do. Online or over the phone. In a branch or with an independent RIA. First-timer or sophisticated trader. Our clients want to take control, and we help them decide how – bringing Wall Street to Main Street for more than 40 years. An official sponsor of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, as well as an official sponsor of the National Football League, TD Ameritrade has time and again been recognized as a leader in investment services. Please visit TD Ameritrade's newsroom or www.amtd.com for more information. Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA (www.FINRA.org)/SIPC (www.SIPC.org)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Charleston Day School Student Organizes Donation Drive for Heavily Flooded Columbia Area

Jack Gilchrist’s family was fortunate. The Gilchrists moved from the Gills Creek area of Columbia to Charleston only a month before the historic flood swept through the Midlands. Houses in the Gills Creek neighborhood were inundated with five feet of water or more. The destroyed roads were where Jack used to ride his bike, the displaced families their friends.

Nine-year-old Jack wanted to help.

Jack asked his father about doing a fundraiser to help those affected by the flooding in his old neighborhood. The two of them organized the event through Charleston Day School, where Jack stood up in front of the student body and explained what he wanted to do and why, accenting his stories with photos of the affected area and his friends’ water-filled homes in Columbia.

“We had to help in some way,” said Jack.

Students at the school collected more than 100 first aid kits and wet wipes for the Red Cross to give to Columbia families in need. For his thoughtfulness and willingness to help others, Louise Welch Williams of the North Charleston Red Cross took Jack on a tour of the office and gave him a Red Cross pin. “I would be proud to have you wear the Red Cross pin,” Williams said.

Gills Creek was among the hardest hit regions of South Carolina, exacerbated by several broken dams during the torrential rainfall. In this area and others, the Red Cross has provided care, comfort, and hope to thousands affected by the flooding. To find out more about how to help others in Columbia or your own community, contact your local chapter or visit redcross.org/sc.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rally Your Employees Around a Common Cause

The Red Cross touches so many lives around you but most people never realize it. In South Carolina, 1 in 4 individuals are touched every day with our services; we respond to a disaster every 3.9 hours. Those disasters are the ones you don’t hear about. You hear about the hurricanes, earthquakes, and the devastating tornadoes across the country. What you don’t see on the news though is the family that loses everything they own to a home fire. But to that family, what someone may consider a small disaster is just as big as a hurricane.
Angela Johnson, a Lieutenant for the City of North Charleston Police Department, volunteered the story of when her parents lost their home to a fire in 2014. The American Red Cross was there to help.

“Red Cross volunteers showed up at 1:30 in the morning to not only assist my family, but also their family members who were visiting from out of town for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The Red Cross put them up in a hotel, got medications for them and gave them vouchers and gift cards to Walmart and Goodwill to help replace some of the items they lost in the fire. Thank you so much for all the Red Cross has done for my family.”-Angela Johnson

Those families lose everything – clothing, household items, electronics, and, most importantly, their family memories. Those are the possessions you can’t replace. The Red Cross is the only social services organization that shows up to the scene of a disaster to help that family move forward; whether it’s assisting with getting new clothes, shoes and food for their family, putting a roof over their head, replacing medications or mental health counseling to help cope with the loss.

Your employees, like many Americans, turn to the Red Cross when they want to help those in need. Those that lost their possessions in a fire, those needing blood for a transfusion, or military personnel that need emergency communications about loved ones back home. Your employees give blood, make financial donations to help their community thrive, and they take First Aid/CPR classes to be ready when an emergency strikes. You can support their enthusiasm for our mission. Through workplace giving and engagement, it’s easy to help your employees come together around a cause.
Many companies have large annual campaigns when they encourage their employees to give back to their communities and to organizations they truly have a passion for.  Employees can donate through payroll deductions or one time gifts.  Each company campaign is different but we strongly encourage companies to highlight their work with the Red Cross during these periods in order to encourage their employees to give.
With turnkey workplace giving campaign tools and resources - including secure, co-branded online donation sites – the Red Cross makes it easy for companies to generate enthusiasm and create stronger teams united by a shared commitment.

During an annual Workplace Giving Campaign, you can drive participation rates by featuring the Red Cross; a trusted and respected brand with high regard, broad reach and a breadth of employee engagement opportunities. If you would like to give your employees the opportunity to support the Red Cross as part of your campaign, please contact Ashleigh Ress at 843-764-2323 x359 or ashleigh.ress@redcross.org and we can show you how easy it is.

Disasters don’t discriminate. You never know when a disaster will strike. You do know that no matter when or where, the Red Cross will be there.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Florence Donor Celebrates 100th Blood Donation

It takes a lot of dedication to donate blood regularly – and even more to hit a milestone donation, like Louie Jacobs of Florence.

Louie recently celebrated his 100th blood donation at the American Red Cross Florence Blood Donation Center. For the past 31 years, he has donated blood as often as he is able.

Why does he do it? Part of it is because he knows it helps others. He grew up in Kingstree, where he was taught to have a very deep sense of community responsibility. “You were expected to help those who needed help,” he said.

In 1984, he started giving blood at blood drives held at his work place. Decades later, he’s still going strong. He especially likes how the Red Cross notifies him when his blood is received by a hospital – letting him know that his donation is helping save lives.

He also enjoys the Red Cross staff who walk him through the donation process every time he comes to give. “Without a doubt, the most important reason I (and many others) continue to donate are the nurses and volunteers at this donation center,” he said. “They truly are great! When you walk through that front door, you’re considered family and treated like you just came home.”

Now that he’s hit the 100-donation milestone, Louie says he has a new goal. “I think I’ll shoot for 200 pints!”

For more information about giving blood or to make an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

AT&T Doesn’t Have to Look Far for Inspiration to Support #SCFlood Relief

Story and photo by: Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross

Since the day the floods began across South Carolina in early October, the support area businesses and organizations have shown for this community has been overwhelming. Many of these companies have come in to their local Red Cross office to deliver their generous donations to help the people of South Carolina in person. When AT&T officials brought an amazing $50,000 gift into the Central South Carolina Chapter in Columbia, they also brought along a special visitor.
(L-R) Ted Creech, AT&T Director of External Relations in South Carolina;
Tiffanie Spencer, AT&T Retail Associate;
Pamela Lackey, AT&T State President for South Carolina;
Beth Shwedo, American Red Cross of Central SC Board Chair;
Louise Welch Williams, American Red Cross Palmetto SC Regional CEO;
Don Cheeks, American red Cross of Central SC Board Member.

“My husband just met with the Red Cross this morning,” said Tiffanie Spencer, a Retail Associate with AT&T. On the morning of Sunday, October 4, life changed for Spencer and her family.

“Our son woke us up at about 3:30am and said, ‘it’s flooding’,” she says. “I looked out the window, the water was already above the top of my car tire. My husband checked in the basement. Wow, the water was rushing in so fast. Within about 30 minutes, our couches and fridge were floating.”

Spencer and her family were able to evacuate safely, and after staying with friends and in a hotel for about a week, they have moved into a new apartment. They were able to save some of their clothing and bedroom furniture from upstairs, but even their mattresses and box springs were too damp to salvage.

Spencer left the Central SC Chapter Wednesday morning with a Red Cross clean-up kit in hand to help salvage what she can, but the road to recovery will be a long one for Tiffanie and her family. The Red Cross caseworkers her husband met with earlier in the day will be there to support them along the way, including help in creating long-term recovery plans, navigating paperwork and locating available resources. Thanks in large part to the generosity of companies like Spencer’s own employers at AT&T.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Volunteer Connections Abound

By Kimmy Venter, American Red Cross

When devastating flooding struck South Carolina in early October, Red Cross volunteers from across the country sprang into action to help people in need. In total, more than 1,700 Red Cross workers have been mobilized to provide food and shelter, hand out relief supplies, offer emotional support, help with recovery planning, and support all of the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that made this disaster response possible.
Hundreds of volunteers in South Carolina have spent weeks away from home to serve those affected by the floods. Despite being far from family and friends, the connections made between Red Crossers working to help others in need made for a special deployment experience for many.

Red Cross volunteers John Fouts of East Lansing, Michigan
and Herbert Wolfe of Rochester, New York exchange information
 at the Disaster Relief Operations headquarters in Columbia,
South Carolina after discovering the bond they share as
Vietnam veterans.
(Photo by Carl Manning/American Red Cross)
John Fouts and Herbert Wolfe have been volunteering with the Red Cross for years, but in Columbia, South Carolina, they discovered a connection that goes much farther back.
“I saw his hat,” said Fouts, of East Lansing, Michigan, describing a hat Wolfe was wearing with a Vietnam veteran’s patch on the front. “I went right up to him, I asked him where he’d served, and I said ‘welcome home’.”

When Wolfe, of Rochester, New York, replied, the two men quickly discovered a new bond between them – both were stationed at Lai Khe from 1968 to 1969, serving in the 1st Infantry Division during the Vietnam War.

“We’ve never met before this [Red Cross] deployment, but we’re buds,” said Fouts. “All of us who served in Vietnam – we’re a fraternity, a brotherhood.”

Their lives have taken very different paths since 1969, but in retirement, both men found ways to make a difference by volunteering with the Red Cross. 

“It’s another family,” Wolfe said. “It’s somewhere you can help people, so it seems to be a fit for me.”

Red Cross volunteer nurses Debi O’Neil of Lafayette, Indiana
and Bob Fitzgerald of Rouses Point, New York bring each other
up to speed on health services activities taking place at a
 multi-agency resource center in Gadsden, South Carolina.
(Photo by Kimmy Venter/American Red Cross)

Debi O’Neil and Bob Fitzgerald were first introduced upon their arrival in South Carolina. Both trained nurses, they were deployed to provide health services to people affected by the devastating floods.

“We just met 10 days ago, but we’re best friends now," said O’Neil, with a smile. “We’re BFF!”

Fitzgerald, from Rouses Point, New York, and O’Neil, from Lafayette, Indiana, spent nearly two weeks working together to provide medical care and comfort in flood-impacted communities across the state.

“We’re here for the same reasons, with the same skill sets,” Fitzgerald said, explaining how working together to take care of others created a bond between him, O’Neil, and other volunteer nurses on the job. “It’s easy to get along with someone with a good heart.”

Red Cross volunteers Shawn Scott-Fitzgerald of Haslett,
Michigan and Shamim Jiwa-Kassam of Lititz, Pennsylvania
share a laugh to start the day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
(Photo by Kimmy Venter/American Red Cross)
Shawn Scott-Fitzgerald and Shamim Jiwa-Kassam started deploying as Red Cross volunteers in 2005 and 2006, respectively. The two first met in 2010, when they left their homes in Haslett, Michigan, and Lititz, Pennsylvania, respectively, to help people affected by flooding in Massachusetts. They’ve been close friends ever since, and in South Carolina, they are working on their tenth Red Cross response together. 

“We think alike,” Jiwa-Kassam said, explaining how the two work so well together in their roles handling staff services and logistics. “We’re support each other all the time,” added Scott-Fitzgerald. “And we laugh a lot, a lot,” they said together, laughing.

With years of experience and more than 80 Red Cross deployments between them, Scott-Fitzgerald and Jiwa-Kassam know a lot about the connections that form during a Red Cross response.

“I’ve made at least one really good friend on every job I’ve been on,” said Scott-Fitzgerald. “Those friendships continue…you see them on the next one, and you pick right up where you left off.”

Reconnecting Families - Reuniting Brandon with his father

Brandon was a child of war. Like so many, his family fled Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. They went to Senegal, where he was born then to the United States when he was 4 years old.

Their destinations: Iowa. Oklahoma. Eventually Columbia, S.C. Along the way, his parents separated and he lived with his father until the father had to return to the Congo. Eventually, at age 22, Brandon graduated from the University of South Carolina. He told a friend he hoped he could reconnect with his father.

Through the Red Cross, Brandon’s father found him in May 2015.

Brandon Lufele Kazadi was contacted by a Red Cross worker who delivered a hand-written note from his father in Africa, dated Jan. 27, 2015. The contact was part of an international service called Reconnecting Families. “He hasn’t forgotten me,” Brandon said.

His father had asked the Red Cross in Africa for help and said he thought his son might have attended Winthrop University in South Carolina. Brandon had talked about wanting to go to Winthrop.

A caseworker called Winthrop and learned that he had been accepted at the school but had not enrolled. Though a Google search the Red Cross found he had been a mayoral intern in Columbia and that he was a political science major at the University of South Carolina.  A search of various clubs on campus showed he was affiliated with the Campus Ministry and an affiliated church

The caseworker contacted the church secretary and said the Red Cross was trying to reach him.  He called immediately, thinking there might have been a problem with a recent blood donation.  The caseworker scheduled a meeting so she could deliver a note.

Brandon last saw his father more than 10 years ago. He had been anxious about his father’s feelings until he received this communication. He hopes to see his father again to “show him the love of God.”

Brandon says he is called to the ministry and is working in a paid internship at the church. He wants to continue service to humanity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Tips for South Carolina

With Halloween just around the corner, we are soon to be expecting little superheroes, princesses and ghouls dispersing into the streets seeking out the best houses to get candy. This will be a great opportunity for families to bounce back from the floods that affected many residents here in South Carolina and to have a special night with friends and family.     

Many children will be walking around in costumes that usually incorporate dark colors and this can make them hard to see at night.  Here are a few tips and tricks for safer trick-or-treating:
  • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to be seen.
  • Use face makeup instead of mask, which can cover your eyes and impair vision.
  • Use flashlights while walking through neighborhoods.
  • Walk on the sidewalk and not in the street.
  • Plan your route ahead of time.
  • Have an adult accompany younger trick-or-treaters.

If you're expecting to be handing out candy to young visitors, you can easily help make their Halloween safer by:
  • Turning on your porch and other outdoor lights.
  • Clearing your porch and yard of any obstacles or leftover debris, including from the recent floods, that someone could trip over.
  • Restraining your pets.
  • Using glow stick instead of a candle in your jack-o-lanterns to avoid fire hazards.
  • Driving slow and using caution as some young kids are excited and may forget to look both ways if they are crossing a road.

South Carolina will not let the floods interfere with tradition and we hope that everyone is safe and also has a good time with loved ones.  Let’s make this a year to focus and be grateful for the treats and not the tricks!  

Looking for another way to help your family stay safe? Download the free Red Cross First Aid App.  You'll have instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever you need it, all in the palm of your hand. Find the First Aid App and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.