How can you send Holiday Mail for Heroes, this year?

Our annual Holiday Mail for Heroes program provides cards of thanks and support to the members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

This year the program will operate a little differently. In previous years, participants and local chapters sent cards to a central P.O. Box.

This year, cards should be sent directly to our local chapters. Participating Red Cross chapters will determine how to best distribute cards to service members, veterans and family members in their local communities, across the nation and around the world. Cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

In Northeast Ohio, you can mail or drop cards off at the following locations:

Stark & Muskingum Lakes
Muskingum Lakes Office
1451 4th St. NW
New Philadelphia , OH 44663
Drop off Deadline: December 5

Greater Cleveland
3747 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
Drop off Deadline: December 5

Lake Erie/Heartland
Wooster Office
244 West South Street
Wooster, OH 44691
Drop off Deadline: December 1

Lake Erie/Heartland
Elyria Office
2929 West River Rd. N.
Elyria , OH 44035
Drop off Deadline: December 1
**We are hosting a signing at Light Up Lorain on 11/29 and community members can bring cards there, too. Just look for Red Cross table!

Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties
501 West Market Street
Akron, OH 44303
Drop off Deadline: December 5

In order to make cards as meaningful as possible for a wide audience, we recommend that you use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member,/Veteran/ Military Family Member” when writing the cards. Cards should not contain glitter because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and the glitter could aggravate existing health issues.

We ask that people not enclose any items with the holiday cards. Any items enclosed with the holiday cards will be removed, including photos and other gifts. If you wish to provide financial support for Red Cross services to the military, please donate online.

How can you get involved in the Holiday Mail program beyond mailing a card?

  • Word of Mouth: Host a card signing party as part of your Thanksgiving Celebration!
  • Social Media: Connect with fellow card senders through social media channels and help us get the word out through Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #holidaymail.
  • Help Sort and Deliver Cards: If you are interested in helping sort and deliver cards, please contact Pat Buckhold at buckhold@redcross.org or 216-431-3370 to see how you can help.

What would you do if extreme weather forced you to stay in your car for hours?

Extreme weather can happen anywhere and at anytime. Typically, the public has advanced notice of extreme weather and can prepare for the event. But consider the ice storm that stopped Georgians in their tracks last January. Some travelers were stuck in their cars on the interestate for 12 or more hours.

So, what can you be prepared for the next #blizznado? (#winterblizz? #heckofalottasnow?)

A lot, actually! Be aware of the amount of gas you have in your car and never let it get below a quarter of a tank.

Pack a special Emergency Kit (Car Edition!) that you keep in your car. Include:

  1. Flashlight with extra batteries
  2. An extra Cell Phone Car Charger
  3. Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  4. Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf (one set for each traveler)
  5. Flares
  6. Folding Shovel
  7. Sand or Cat Litter
  8. Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  9. First-Aid Kit
  10. Small battery-operated radio
  11. Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  12. Extra prescription medications
  13. Bottled Water (4 quarts per traveler – don’t forget pets!)
  14. High protein snacks such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
  15. Maps
  16. Whistle
  17. Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
  18. A baggie of pet food, if you frequently travel with your four-legged friends

Additionally, know the differences between winter storm outlooks, advisories, watches and warnings.

  • Winter storm outlook – Winter storm conditions that are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
  • Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
  • Winter Storm Watch – Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Storm Warning – Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.
    • People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

10 ways to stay safe during this latest round of cold temperatures

COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS

Here are ten ways to stay safe during this latest round of cold temperatures:

Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.

Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.

  1. Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  2. Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
  3. Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
  4. Bring the pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  5. Avoid frozen pipes – run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.
  6. Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  7. Space heaters should sit on a level, hard surface and anything flammable should be kept at least three feet away.
  8. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  9. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  10. Learn how to treat cold weather related emergencies by downloading the free Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps. More information about winter safety is available on redcross.org.         

This free coffee can’t thank you enough for your service….

…but we can.

Thank you.

As a show of gratitude for their service to our country, many restaurants will be offering free food or drink to our current military members and veterans this Tuesday, November 11. To take part in these offers, don’t forget to bring along your proof of military service which includes and military I.D., Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), a Photograph in uniform, a veterans organization card (like the American Legion or VFW) or other forms of paperwork like discharge papers, etc.

*Please call ahead to verify that your nearest location is participating.

Applebee’s – free meal, Nov. 11, 2014: Last year, Applebee’s served over one million free meals to military veterans and active servicemembers. Applebee’s is again offering a free meal to military veterans and active-duty service members on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Visit the link above for more information. Military ID or proof of service required.

Bob Evans, Nov. 11, 2014. Free All you can eat hotcakes. For active duty military and veterans with ID or proof of service.

Carraba’s, Nov. 11, 2014. Free appetizer of your choice for active duty servicemembers and veterans. Military ID or proof of service required.

Chick-fil-A, Nov. 11, 2014. Participating locations are offering a free meal to all veterans and those currently serving. ID required. Please call ahead to verify.

Chili’s – free meal, Tuesday, Nov. 11 2014. Chili’s is offering all military veterans past and present their choice of one of 7 meals during the dinner hour, or any lunch combo during lunch. Offer only available at participating Chili’s in the U.S. only. Dine-in from limited menu only; beverages and gratuity not included. Veterans and active duty military simply show proof of military service.

Denny’s, Nov. 11. Free Build Your Own Grand Slam® on Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 5 a.m. to noon for all active, inactive, and retired military personnel. Participating locations only. Please call ahead.

Einstein Bros Bagels, Nov. 11, 2014. Free coffee at participating locations. Available to all active duty members and veterans with ID or proof of service.

Friendly’s, Nov. 11, 2014. Free breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Offer available for active military and veterans with ID or discharge papers. Participating locations only.

IHOP, Nov. 11, 2014, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free Red, White and Blue pancakes, or Red, White and Blue pancakes combo plate including eggs, bacon and hashed browns. Participating locations only. Please call ahead to verify participation.

Krispy Kreme – Free doughnut and small coffee, Nov. 11, 2014. Available only at participating Krispy Kreme stores. Offer available to all active-duty, retirees, & veterans. Be sure to call ahead to verify your local Krispy Kreme is participating.

Lone Star Steakhouse, Nov. 11, 2014. All veterans and active duty military will be eligible for a free Starter. ID or proof of service required. Please call ahead for verification.

LongHorn Steakhouse, Nov. 11, 2014. Complimentary Texas Tonion and non-alcoholic beverage. Offer good for Veterans and active-duty military members. Proof of service required.

Max & Erma’s, November 11, 2014. Participating Max & Erma’s locations are offering military members and veterans a free Best Cheeseburger in America Combo. Dine-in only. Call ahead to verify participation. ID or proof of service required. Visit above link for more information.

Menchie’s, Nov. 11, 2014. All veterans and current servicemembers will receive a free 6 oz. frozen yogurt on Veterans Day.

Outback Steakhouse – Nov. 11, 2014. Outback Steakhouse is honoring America’s military veterans by offering active duty military and veterans a free Bloomin’ Onion and a non-alcoholic beverage. This offer is available to Military Personnel and veterans with ID. Also receive 15% off your purchase from Nov. 12-Dec 31, 2014.

Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery, Nov. 11, 2014. Participating restaurants are offering current servicemembers and veterans a free Magnificent Seven meal. Beverage not included. Call ahead to verify participation. ID or proof of service required.

Red Lobster – Monday, Nov. 10 – Thursday Nov. 13, 2014. Free Appetizer on Veterans Day with military ID or proof of service. Vets may choose from a select list of appetizers.

Red Robin, Nov. 11, 2014. Free Red’s Tavern Double and Bottomless Steak Fries for all Red Robin guests with a military ID or proof of service. Visit link for more information.

Ruby Tuesday’s, Nov. 11, 2014. Free appetizer at participating locations, proof of service required.

Shoney’s, Nov. 11, 2014. Free All-American Burger to veterans and active duty servicemembers. Dine-in only, Proof of Service required.

Starbucks, Nov. 11, 2014. Free tall brewed coffee for active duty, veterans, and their spouses. Participating stores only. Please call ahead.

Texas Roadhouse, Nov. 11, 2014. Free lunch event to honor the men and women of our armed forces. Choose from one of 10 free meals, plus sides and a drink. Offer good for All veterans – including all active, retired or former U.S. military. ID Required. Dine-in only. Call ahead to verify times and locations.

T.G.I. Friday’s, Nov. 11, 2014. Free lunch for all current military members and veterans from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Valid ID or proof of service required. Dine-on only at participating locations. Be sure to contact your local T.G.I Friday’s for details.

The Olive Garden, Free entrée, Nov. 11, 2014. Offer good for veterans and active duty military; proof of service required. See link for details.

Tim Hortons, Nov. 11, 2014 – all US locations are offering a free donut to all active duty servicemembers and veterans. No purchase necessary. Proof of service required.

Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for this one:

Golden Corral – Free meal, Monday Nov. 17, 2014 (5pm – 9pm): The 14th annual Golden Corral Military Appreciation Monday dinner will is available to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to participate in Golden Corral’s Military Appreciation Monday dinner. For more information visit http://www.goldencorral.com/military/.

For updates to this list, please visit http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/

Red Cross Volunteer Apps make volunteering easy for current and prospective volunteers

Nationally, there are over one million volunteers for the Red Cross. While many volunteers tend to local community needs by those who have experienced a disaster like a home fire or flood, there are many other ways to work with the Red Cross including supporting the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces, Blood Drives, work at events, community meetings, and more. All are welcome and encouraged to make a difference in their community.  The Red Cross has created two ways to use your mobile device to help you volunteer, the Team Red Cross App and the Volunteer Connection App.

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When a large scale disaster hits, the Team Red Cross App makes it easy for you to help the response through just-in-time training.  The app has extensive training materials so you know exactly how to provide help with disaster assessment, feeding, bulk distribution, or other important work to assist those when they need it most.  Using the GPS on your mobile device, the app instantly recognizes where you are and tells you what help is needed in your area.  For more information, visit www.redcross.org/apps.

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The Volunteer Connection app is for those who are currently volunteers for the Red Cross. The app will help you easily update your profile, log your volunteer hours, schedule your shifts or read up on the latest news from your groups.  The app works with the existing volunteer connection website, but gives you the power to stay connected through your mobile device.  The apps are downloadable for the iPhone and Android servers.

To get started as a volunteer, or learn about additional opportunities visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.

The Red Cross Wins the Unsung Hero Award

On October 17, the FBI Citizens Academy Foundation (FBICAF) recognized the amount of good the American Red Cross – and other organizations – of Northeast Ohio does for its 4.5 million residents. In a show of recognition and appreciation, the Disaster Services Team was given the FBICAF Unsung Hero Award; a great honor for hometown heroes.

With an average of 2.5 house fires a night, the Disaster Services Team is always available for each emergency and to help neighbors in need of assistance. The team reports to the scene of a single home fire, flood, chemical spill, tornado damage, or other disasters.  But they do not only address these types of situations.  During the Polar Vortex in early 2014, the severity of the weather caused schools and businesses to be shut down, but not the Red Cross.  The Red Cross opened up warming centers that operated across Northeast Ohio, where people were provided with a place of shelter and warmth.

The FBI Citizens Academy Foundation’s Unsung Hero Award requires nominees to display extraordinary effort in assisting victims. The award is given to any person, community service, or agency that takes victims out of bad situations and gives them hope for their future.  The ceremony offered two other awards as well.  The Citizen Hero Award was given to Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a youth empowering organization.  The Safety Forces Hero Award was awarded to the Shaker Heights Police Department.

A special thanks to the Ganley Auto Group, who donated a table to the Red Cross that allowed more people to attend the ceremony. In attendance were Pat Buckhold, Debra Kellar, Tony Rivera, Tina Buckingham, Ron Baumberger, Linda Taylor, Gene McCray, Amy Gibson, Gail Hanes, Marge DeCastro,  Diane Homza-Dacek, Kevin Jones, Ramona Lucas, Richard Lucas and Josie Rivera-Lough.