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Red Cross feels pinch
Events planned to boost donations during March
Red Cross lead
Red Cross phlebotomist Paulita Banez, left, reassures Georgia Southern University student Megan McGahan of Swainsboro as she prepares to donate blood in this Herald file photo from May 2008. The Red Cross locally and across the nation is feeling the effects of the economic downturn as donations have drastically decreased. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File
    As President Barack Obama officially declares March as Red Cross Month, the 66th year a president has done so, agencies across the nation, including the Bulloch County Chapter, are feeling the bite of an ailing economy.
    Several events are slated for the upcoming weeks in celebration of Red Cross Month, said K. Lynn Bowen, executive director of the Bulloch County Chapter American Red Cross.
    While each event is geared to educate and promote the American Red Cross and services the agency provides, many are also fund raisers, she said.
    The American Red Cross not only helps collect blood for medical emergencies,  but aids victims of disasters such as fires, floods and tornadoes, she said.
    Due to the economy’s condition and more people resorting to less expensive, but more dangerous forms of heating, “fires have gone  through the roof,” she said.  And paired with cutbacks and even jobs lost, when a disaster strikes a family, “ cases are more desperate than  they have ever been before.”
    The economy has also led to a decline in donations.  There has also been an increase in the frequency of disasters, including house fires during colder months, she said.
    The first event of the month in celebration of American Red Cross Month for the area is  a free CPR class slated for Saturday, March 7 at 9 a.m.,  Bowen said.
     The class will be held at the First United Methodist Church, and anyone interested in taking the class should call the Statesboro Red Cross office at 764-4468 to sign up in order for organizers to ensure they have enough materials, she said.
    Dress- Down Day for Red Cross is March 27, but if you want to order your Dress Down tee shirts, the deadline is March 13. Companies and businesses can obtain order forms by calling the Red Cross office, she said.
    Money from the tee shirt sales benefits the agency by helping provide funds for victims of disasters.
    Another fund drive is the “Hometown Heroes for Hope,” which is a communication with business partners where volunteers are asking for “donations on a different level than individuals,” Bowen said. Corporate or business donors are able to give on several levels — Gold ($1,000 or more), Silver ($750) or Bronze ($500).
    The average family of four suffering from disaster receives between $750 to $1,000 from the American Red Cross during crisis, she said.
    A poker run, the “Ride for the Red,” will be held March 28 to help raise funds for the area Red Cross, she said. The ride begins in Uvalda, goes through Metter, to Statesboro and back, she said.
    For more information on the ride contact the Bulloch County Red Cross at 764-4468 or Toombs County Red Cross coordinator Donna Lee at (912) 526-3150.
Proclamation: March is Red Cross Month
    According to the American Red Cross Web site ( “March has been known as Red Cross Month across the country since 1943, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued the declaration in support of Red Cross efforts to raise funds for World War II services.”
    Obama’s recent proclamation read, in part: “The Red Cross has continued to serve those suffering from large- and small-scale disasters. The organization is best known for its work helping communities deal with major disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.
    “ These large-scale disasters represent a major part of the work of the American Red Cross. Just as important are the tens of thousands of small-scale disasters that occur every day in communities nationwide, and the volunteers who respond to them. These efforts include supporting our military and their families, collecting and distributing blood, helping the needy, delivering health and safety education, and providing aid abroad.”
    On a national scale, in celebration of  Red Cross Month, the agency  plans a new contest — the “Change a Life” contest running  through March  16.  Citizens can visit the Web site and share how a Red Cross experience changed theirs  or someone else’s life.
    The grand prize is a two-night trip for two to Washington D.C. to join Keith Urban and his band  Aug. 20  for their “Escape Together” World Tour concert, including backstage passes and a tour of the National American Red Cross Disaster Operations Center.
    The second place winner will receive a 52” Philips HD LCD television, DVD player and a library of Red Cross preparedness and safety DVDs.

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