Fires force families to flee their homes

Disaster workers respond to nearly a dozen home fires in Northeast Ohio over the weekend

Nearly three-dozen people, including nine children were left homeless – at least temporarily – following weekend fires in Cleveland, Lorain, Eastlake, Mansfield and Cadiz, Ohio.  Disaster action team members responded, tending to their immediate needs by providing financial assistance, comfort kits that include personal hygiene items, and hope for finding a way forward.

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One of the fires near downtown Cleveland forced eight adults to flee in the middle of the night on Saturday.  Ben Bellucci, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland, said the tenants and property owners expressed heartfelt appreciation for the help being offered.

fire6“They had no idea we do this,” Ben said. “When I told them we respond to fires like these 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they were shocked.  They could not have been more appreciative.”

Financial assistance totaling more than $6,300 was distributed to the 34 people who found themselves out in the cold.  Additional assistance was also offered, including help replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses, and making connections with other community resources.

Only by the power of our volunteer workforce and the generosity of our donors are we able to provide such assistance.  There is no government funding for the help residents receive – on average, three times every 24 hours in Northeast Ohio.  To make a financial contribution, visit www.redcross.org/donate.  And to volunteer to help your neighbors by responding to home fires and other disasters, apply here.

Photo credit: Ben Bellucci, American Red Cross

Trees, Wreaths, and a Blimp

Annual Festival of Trees event raises money and lifts spirits

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross Regional Communications Officer

Wooster, December 6, 2019 – It’s one of the most timely events of the season. And it’s one of the most popular events in the region. Dozens of designer trees, wreaths, centerpieces and baskets were on display at the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser for disaster relief.  The items were auctioned off on Tuesday, December 3 at the Shisler Conference Center on the Wooster campus of The Ohio State University.  Supporters also bid on valuable gifts donated by local companies and individuals during a live auction.

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One of those gifts is always in high demand: a ride on the Goodyear blimp.  The highest bidder was Annette Saeger, owner of the Gilcrest Center, an adult daycare in Wooster.

“One of her resident’s  dying wish is to ride in the Goodyear blimp,” said Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Red Cross of Lake Erie/Heartland. “She bought that for him.” 

49164545698_7913cd9266_cThe event raised more than $80,000 for the Red Cross to help residents who are affected by disasters like home fires and flooding in Ashland, Holmes, Richland and Wayne counties.

The general public was invited to attend a preview the night before the auction.

They 49164556318_dca86bd6ac_cwere treated not only to the splendor of the decorated trees, but also a performance by the  Wooster High School Choir and a visit from Santa Claus.

“What a great way to kick-off the holiday season,” Kiefer said.  “People had a good time for a good cause – those who need help during their darkest hours, after a disaster like a home fire.”

If you’d like to help people recover from home fires, floods, tornadoes and other disasters, visit redcross.org/neo and click the donate button at the top of the page, or call 800-RED CROSS.

To view dozens of photos from the preview night and the auction at Festival of Trees, visit our photo album here.

Photo credits: Tom Newman/American Red Cross volunteer; Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Trim Your Home with Care this Holiday Season

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

December 4, 2019- As we enter the holiday season here in Northeast Ohio, many will be trimming trees and putting up decorations. As you hang your stockings with care, make sure to keep in mind these holiday decorating safety tips from the American Red Cross.

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  1. Candles: Use battery-operated candles whenever you can. If you do use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach from children and pets.
  2. Lights:
    1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken.
    2. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
    3. Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
    4. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  3. Outside Decorations: Make sure all decorations hung outside are marked for outdoor use. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or a fire hazard.
  4. Trees: If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it often to keep it from drying out. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off. Keep the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  5. Indoor Decorations:
    1. If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based.
    2. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
    3. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.
  6. Ladders: Make sure to have a good, stable placement of the ladder before use. Wear shoes that allow for good traction.

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Home Fire Campaigns Saves Lives

Home fires take seven lives each day in the U.S. To prevent fire tragedies, the Red Cross works with community partners to install free smoke alarms and help families create escape plans through its Home Fire Campaign — which has saved at least 658 lives nationwide since launching in October 2014. In Northeast Ohio, Red Cross volunteers and partners have:

  • Installed 62,656 smoke alarms.
  • Reached 16,273 youth through preparedness programs.
  • Made 22,308 households safer from the threat of home fires.

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You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, registering to become a volunteer or by taking steps to protect your family from home fires. Visit redcross.org to learn more.

Donating to the Red Cross: Ideas for impactful giving

#GivewithMeaning during Holiday Campaign, kicking off on Giving Tuesday

Ben Bisbee, Grants Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

December 2, 2019- Every donation to the American Red Cross matters. Your gift of money or blood, time or talents, allows the Red Cross to smartly convert every kind of gift given to help people in need every single day. But when it comes to the topic of donations, it’s often unknown how many fantastic ways there are to donate to the Red Cross.

So this holiday season, we thought it would be smart to showcase all the dynamic ways you can powerfully and thoughtfully donate a gift to the Red Cross beyond the classic gift of credit, cash or checks.

REGULAR or SUSTAINING AUTOMATED GIFT

Preparedness is a major focus of the Red Cross mission. If you include the Red Cross as part of your annual or often-giving intentions, you can help us better plan and be prepared. Consider setting up a regular automated gift, such as monthly, quarterly, semi or annually. Many individuals and families choose this option to increase their giving without having to give one lump sum at one time. For some, it seems easier to give, say, $250 a month rather than $3,000 all at once.

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VEHICLE DONATION

Like a scene out of a movie or auto commercial, who doesn’t love the gift of a car for the holidays? The American Red Cross Vehicle Donation Program is an easy and effective revenue donation opportunity for anyone with a car, van, truck, RV, boat, tractor, heavy equipment or jet ski in almost any condition to simply donate their item as a cash donation. We work with a vendor to provide services from the time of donation through the initial acknowledgement to you, the donor, as well as post-donation customer service support.

LEAVE A LEGACY – PLANNED GIVING

  • Your passionate display of support can continue to make a difference. You can become a member of our Legacy Society simply by including the Red Cross in your estate planning. Many choose to be in our Legacy Society just by designating the Red Cross as a beneficiary of a life or insurance policy or a portion of their estate. By doing so and working with a financial advisor, this can benefit the Red Cross and leave a lasting legacy in your name.

GIFT OF STOCK

Sometimes donors consider making a gift of cash after selling key stock. This is a wonderful way to donate. However, we sometimes encourage a directed gift of stock to the Red Cross by the financial institution instead of converting a gift into cash first. This is because with a gift of appreciated securities held long-term, both the donation you make and the deduction you get are greater if you were to sell the shares and donate the cash proceeds. Essentially, this process allows you to avoid paying capital gains tax. Since 2019 has had such a robust stock market, this may be a great option for many. But please consult with your financial advisor/accountant.

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GIFT OF MUTUAL FUND 

The gift of a mutual fund is very similar to stock (donate directly vs. selling). However, there are some limitations, especially with regard to length of holding. After consulting with a financial advisor, the Red Cross will be glad to receive such a gift.

IRA ROLL-OVER

If you’re a donor over the age of 71, you have a unique option to give a special gift. The Charitable IRA Rollover allows individuals age 70½ and older to make direct transfers of up to $100,000 per year (and up to $200,000 per year for married couples) from individual retirement accounts to the Red Cross without having to count the transfers as income for federal tax purposes.

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SPECIAL EVENTS HELP SUPPORT THE OVERALL MISSION

Like many nonprofits, the American Red Cross enjoys the excitement and interaction of community events as fundraising opportunities. In 2020, you may consider participation in one or more of our upcoming major events:

  • Acts of Courage Awards, the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties March 5.
  • Greater Cleveland Hero Awards Breakfast March 12.
  • BASH, Stark and Muskingum Lakes fundraising auction, May 30.
  • Acts of Courage Awards, the Red Cross Lake to River Chapter June 11.
  • Red Cross Cup golf outing September 21.

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Donating to the American Red Cross can be a rich and diverse experience depending on your opportunities and objectives. We hope these ideas will inspire you to think differently about ways you can contribute now or in the future. If you have any questions, contact Michelle Polinko, regional chief development officer, at 216-233-9645 or Michelle.Polinko@RedCross.org.

Please remember the Red Cross this holiday season to help those in need

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

November 29, 2019- Earlier this month, another volunteer and I sat with a woman outside her family’s home, which had been severely damaged by fire a few hours earlier. Toward the end of our discussion, we handed her an assistance packet. She looked at it for a moment, nodded and thanked us through tears. While the aid we provided consisted of objects and financial assistance, there was also something greater: the beginning of recovery, of moving forward.

In Northeast Ohio, moments like these happen three times a day, on average. They are among the many critical services provided by the American Red Cross — and are made possible through generous donations from people like you.

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The holiday giving season is now in full swing, and many of us seek ways to express gratitude to loved ones. For Black Friday, Giving Tuesday and throughout the season, please consider helping others as well, whether they are recovering from a disaster, serving their country, learning lifesaving skills, in need of smoke alarms, in need of blood or facing medical issues. These are among the community members the Red Cross assists every day.

Whatever you can give is very impactful. For instance, $2.50 covers the cost of a comfort kit with hygiene supplies, while $5 provides someone with a blanket, and $15 covers the cost of fire safety training and installation of a smoke alarm.

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Similarly, a $50 donation can provide hot meals for five people, a day’s worth of supplies to a person in an emergency shelter, or it can help connect veterans and their families to critical community services such as food, housing, mental health support and rehabilitation. A $100 gift can provide lifesaving vaccinations for 100 children facing an increased risk of measles and rubella around the world, or it can supply a crib for an infant in a shelter. A donation of $145 can provide hospital kits for 20 service members. Training and installation of a smoke alarm for a deaf or hearing-impaired person is possible through a $150 donation, while $200 can cover the cost to deploy an Emergency Response Vehicle or provide a full day of food and shelter for a family of four.

These are just a few of the examples of what a Red Cross financial donation can provide. If you are able to help, please visit redcross.org/gift.

 

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There are other ways to contribute as well. Donating blood is especially important during the holiday season as busy schedules and winter weather make collection more difficult. For more information or to schedule a donation, visit redcrossblood.org. Volunteers are also needed in a number of areas. If you can help, visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information or to apply.

As a volunteer, I have been honored to see the positive impact and effectiveness of Red Cross services and am grateful for the contributions that make it possible. If you are able to provide financial assistance, volunteer or give blood, please consider helping the Red Cross this Giving Tuesday and throughout the season.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

A special thank you to NEO Red Cross volunteers

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

November 27, 2019- Volunteers from across Northeast Ohio descended on Akron two days before Thanksgiving to enjoy delicious pie at the annual Thanks For Giving celebration.

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The event truly had the feel of a family affair with Red Cross staff and volunteers sharing laughter and fond memories.

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Red Crossers from all five chapters – Greater Cleveland, Lake Erie/Heartland, Lake to River, Stark and Muskingum Lakes, and Summit. Portage and Medina Counties were represented.

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The event was more than just enjoying sweets and refreshments. It was an opportunity for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio to give a heartfelt thank you to volunteers for everything they do to spread the Red Cross’ mission throughout the year.

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Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross.

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If you’d like to join our volunteer workforce, visit redcross.org/neo to explore the many volunteer opportunities available.

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To view more photos from Thanks For Giving, visit our Flickr page.

Be the lifeline for patients in need this holiday season – Give Blood!

Community urged to help patients in need across northeast Ohio

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

November 25, 2019- The American Red Cross urges eligible donors to be the lifeline for patients in need this holiday season by making an appointment to give blood or platelets. While helping to save lives is likely motivation enough, those who come out to give Nov. 18-Dec. 18 will also receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane.

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As schedules fill with holiday parties, shopping and fun with friends and family, many blood and platelet donors delay giving. Unfortunately, that may lead to delays in treatments for patients relying on blood. Right now, there is a critical need for type O blood donors.

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Join the Red Cross and Cleveland Clinic for a special Black Friday blood drive Friday, Nov. 29 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Emerald Event Center. The center is located at the Residence Inn by Marriott, 33040 Just Imagine Drive in Avon. All who come to donate will also receive a Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last and enjoy a catered meal.

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Your blood donation may give a patient in need more time – and more holidays – with loved ones. To make an appointment or for more information download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.