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 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

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,, (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 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

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 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 or contact Race Director Dr. Jim Troxell at

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 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 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 for more information. Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA ( (

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

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 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