Fundraiser provides festive kickoff to the holiday season

Proceeds to benefit local Red Cross disaster relief

WOOSTER – The Festival of Trees has become a tradition in Wooster, to help residents in Wayne, Holmes, Ashland and Richland Counties kick-off the holiday season.  For 27 years it has helped to provide critical funding for disaster services provided by the American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.

On Tuesday, November 27, Festival-goers sipped local wines from Troutman Vineyards and Blue Barn Winery, along with beer and pop provided by Bowman Beverage. They also enjoyed Certified Angus beef and appetizers prepared by Wooster Country Club, as they meandered through the Buckeye Agricultural Museum and Education Center, admiring the trees and wreaths decorated by local artisans and enthusiasts.  A list of the designer award winners is below.

For more pictures from the Festival of Trees, visit our photo album here

The Museum provided a unique backdrop for the Festival, as the trees and wreaths, along with the many silent auction items, were positioned among vintage farm equipment on display there.  More than 260 tickets were sold for this year’s event. 

“The main purpose of this event is to raise funds for the local community Red Cross,” said Festival Chair Sean Ulik.  “We cover a large area, and the funds are very important.”

The Red Cross assists 300 local families, on average every year, by providing help and hope following a home fire or other disaster.  The Red Cross distributes more than $180,000 every year in immediate financial assistance for shelter, clothing and other emergency needs.

“We’re here to save lives,” Sean said, highlighting the smoke alarms installed by Red Cross volunteers in homes throughout the community.“it’s amazing how many individuals do not have smoke alarms.  Those smoke alarms are so important in saving lives.”

For more information about the Home Fire Campaign, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.  And if you’d like to help provide the funds for the assistance needed by residents affected by disasters, visit redcross.org/neo, or call 1-800 RED CROSS to make a donation.

2018 Festival of Trees Designer Award winners:

Honorary Chair Award: Splendor in Red Wreath, designed by Tess Hustack

Best Agricultural Design: Weathervane Tree, donated by Consumer National Bank and Designed Mariah Crater

Most Creative: Frosty Tree, donated and designed by Diane Evans

Best Wreath: Stag N Star Wreath, designed by Tess Hustack

Most Christmassy: Rustic Bells Tree, designed by Christina Ennis

Best Little Tree: Winter Dreams, donated by Howard Hanna

People’s Choice: Sleigh Ride Tablepiece, donated and designed by CR Blooms Floral

Lake Erie/Heartland heroes celebrated in Mansfield

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

Ten heroes were honored for their bravery in the American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. On October 4, the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet presented the Hero Awards to benefit the American Red Cross and to recognize the extraordinary acts, passion, courage and dedication of the volunteers. The event was held at The Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield.

The event commenced with Matti Lynn Chrisman, Miss Ohio 2008, singing the national anthem and Air National Guard 179th Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Allison Miller providing a video message honoring the efforts and actions by the award recipients.

Ten individuals were awarded, and these are the stories of those honored:

Tracy M. Dodson, Call to Action Hero- While at the Wayne County Fair, Tracy witnessed a person in line in front of her go into cardiac arrest. Tracy, a nurse, administered CPR and continued CPR after the Red Cross First Aid Team arrived. Due to her rapid identification and quick action in stressful conditions, the individual regained a heartbeat and was conscious by the time the rescue squad arrived.

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Dr. Edward Adkins, Health Professional Hero- Dr. Atkins has been a primary care physician for more than 30 years. Along with providing quality, compassionate care to his patients in Ohio, Dr. Adkins does mission trips to third world countries to help heal individuals in dire need of health care. Dr. Adkins has provided care to individuals in Africa and he also traveled to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

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Pauline Anderson, Spirit of the Red Cross Hero- Since 2006, Pauline’s quarterly blood drives have collected 1,956 blood donations, and will easily clear the 2,000 mark this year. These drives may have helped save nearly 6,000 lives. Pauline’s extraordinary work as a Blood Drive Coordinator began in 2001, when her step daughter put on a blood drive honoring the life of her mother, who passed away from leukemia a year earlier.

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Hunter Woodruff, Call to Action Hero- Hunter, while driving home from his job, had noticed a car trapped in flood water in Mansfield. Without thinking twice, Hunter pulled over and jumped into the flood water. Due to Hunter’s quick action, the driver of the sinking car was saved.

Officer Ryan Garner, A Presence to Remember- Officer Ryan Garner, a Mansfield K-9 officer, was a fixture of the community. Officer Garner had a passion for being a police officer and was dedicated to not only helping his fellow officers, but also helping individuals in need. Officer Garner passed away from lung cancer in May 2018.

 Officer John Fuller, Police Hero- Officer John Fuller was the first community policing officer in Mansfield, as well as the community’s first bike patrol officer. Officer Fuller was committed to bridging the gap between the police and the community. His love for the community was evident by his interactions with children and their families. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Officer Fuller took personal time and traveled to New York City to help locate individuals trapped in the rubble.

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Merris Welge, Community Educator Hero- Merris has volunteered his time educating the community through the North Central Ohio SCORE organization for 22 years. SCORE is a mentoring program that provides free counseling, advice and resources to people who are in business or who wish to start a business.

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Jan Wendling, Military Inspiration Hero- Jan, a Mansfield resident, served as a tank commander for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Following his return from the war, Jan served as a Mansfield police officer and helped develop the Mansfield Vietnam War Memorial.

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Missy Houghton, Animal Advocate Hero- Missy is the passionate director of the Humane Society of Richland County. She is making a difference locally through education and action. One animal Missy helped save was a cat named Vandy. Vandy arrived as a kitten with severe burns, missing an ear and an exposed skull. Missy was able to contact the Horizon Animal Hospital, which performed a skin graft surgery in April 2017. Vandy survived and has made appearances at Humane Society fundraisers.

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The event was managed by Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter volunteer board member Luke Beekman, who also produced a video honoring the award winners, which was shown during the event.

To view photos from the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet Hero Awards, visit our Flickr page.

Volunteer Profile: Sue J. Miller

Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter Volunteer Makes a Big Impact 

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross Volunteer

Sue J. Miller is a Red Cross Volunteer who has not just an uplifting charisma, but an extravagant courage that inspires everyone around her. Five years ago when Sue decided to retire, she had many plans to keep herself busy,  but her main aim was to help people with anything she could.  According to Sue, her Richland County community had done a lot for her family and she wanted to give back by getting involved in voluntary work. That is when in 2015, Sue joined the Red Cross. Among many other duties that she performs by giving more than 30-hours per week at Red Cross, she is an active member of the Disaster Relief Team, Shelter Response Team and Food Canteen Team.

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Sue J. Miller, left, and Sue K. Miller working at a canteen for first responders following a train derailment in Ashland County earlier this year.

The motivation to continue her extraordinary work comes from the community she serves. In her own words, “when people come to me and say thank you for everything you did for us, it fills my heart with satisfaction and happiness. I believe in the Red Cross mission of alleviating sufferings and pain of people and that is who I want to be”.

“Sue was one of our Chapter’s outstanding “stayployed” volunteers during the horrific national disasters last fall,” said Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland (LEH) Chapter.” Her compassion and commitment to our mission is an inspiration to all of us. We are very lucky to have Sue in our LEH chapter.”

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It is also important to note that while Red Cross Volunteers leave no stone unturned in helping the communities around them,  the Red Cross as a body also takes care of its volunteers. When Sue had an accident while on assignment in 2016, she broke both arms. Not only did the Red Cross take care of her treatment logistics, but they also made sure to give her a call every Wednesday 9:00 am for the next eight weeks to make sure she was okay. For Sue, that compassion means everything.  Eventually, the whole story is about human love and care. Whether you give it in some form or receive it back in any other form. Be it a hug or a thank you from a community member.

The Red Cross is fortunate to have a volunteer like Sue J. Miller.

You can volunteer too, get started at redcross.org/neo!

Festive Fundraiser: Festival of Trees

That was some sleigh.

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Six feet long and four feet wide, with wispy garland, clusters of red berries, a padded red leather seat and a strip of festive bells, the sleigh proved to be the item that generated the most heating bidding during the 2018 Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter presented by Schaeffler.  In the end, close to $60,000 were raised for general disaster services in the local counties served by the chapter.

The sleigh went for a winning bid of $1,600.

Half of the more than 180 bidders placed their bids online, a first for the Festival of Trees. Also a first, the Blue Barn Winery in Wooster as the venue for the Festival.  With its rustic yet elegant decor,  the 85 guests in attendance enjoyed fine food and wine in an intimate setting compliments of Certified Angus Beef and Wooster Country Club.

The funds raised will benefit residents of Wayne, Holmes, Ashland, Richland, Huron, Lorain and Erie Counties who experience a disaster like a home fire.  “The local Red Cross assisted close to 300 families last year, distributing more than $180,000 dollars to help them during their darkest hour,” said Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.  “The money raised at this year’s Festival of Trees will continue to help our neighbors recover from disasters like home fires and floods.”

You can help support the mission of the Red Cross by making a donation at redcross.org/neo, or by calling 1-800 Red Cross.

More photos from this year’s Festival of Trees can be seen by visiting our photo album on Flickr.  Photos from the November 17th preview event can be seen here.

 

Cedar Fair Executive Recognized by Gail McGovern

The president of the American National Red Cross, Gail McGovern, has recognized Sanduskian Lee Alexakos for her outstanding contributions to the organization’s vital blood collection program.

National Awards and Recognition Dinner 2017

Lee Alexakos, center, is flanked on the left by Gail McGovern, President and Howie Walz, Vice President of Recruitment

A Biomedical Partnership Award — presented recently at the Red Cross National Award Program in Washington, D.C. — cited Alexakos for expanding the partnership between the Red Cross and Cedar Fair Entertainment, where she serves as Vice President of Community Relations.

Cedar Fair—a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment—is a great corporate partner with Lee Alexakos at the helm. Her extensive work on the expansion of Cedar Fair’s partnership with the American Red Cross helped to increase revenue, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction for our organization. Her successful expansion campaign included gifting the Red Cross over 16 thousand free Cedar Fair admissions to be used to recruit blood donors during the difficult summer collection months; encouraging blood donations by offering prize packs of admission for four; and gifting and promoting a Grand Prize package including family admission, fast passes, and weekend overnight accommodations. The in-kind donations from this campaign were equal to over $1 million from Cedar Fair.

The success of the Cedar Fair partnership enabled laser marketing to our youth markets during a time of the year when it can be challenging to connect with our high school and university partners. Students stepped up to coordinate blood drives in their communities resulting in youth leadership opportunities plus education on the blood donation process and the patients we serve. Lee’s dedication to our organization and endless hours invested of her own time to ensure sponsor and donor engagement were crucial for our life saving mission during the challenging summer months.

The Red Cross is always in need of blood donations.  You can make an appointment to donate at 1-800-RED CROSS, or by logging onto redcrossblood.org.  You can also make an appointment on the Red Cross Blood App, which also records your donation history, and keeps track of your blood’s journey.

(Red Cross Volunteer Eilene Guy contributed to this story)

Nurses Needed…ASAP

Looking back 100 years at the Lake Erie / Heartland Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio)

If history proves anything, it might be that we need to learn from our mistakes.

In 1898, when the USS Maine exploded off Cuba’s shores, war was declared with Spain, and the U.S. Army was deployed.  Despite knowledge that yellow fever was most likely to afflict people during the rainy summer season, the U.S. forces launched their offensive on June 22.  Less than 400 soldiers died during the conflict, but more than 2,000 succumbed to the disease during the occupation that followed.

Sixteen years later, the United States initially resisted being drawn into World War I.  However, after learning that the Germans were suggesting Mexico attack the U.S., President Wilson asked for and received a declaration of war in 1917. With America preparing to enter yet another foreign war, the nation hoped to be more prepared.

A military draft was established and of the 10-million men interviewed, 4.7-million were selected. This required a tremendous increase in medical care as well as production of arms and ammunition for the troops. The Army Medical department increased its hospital capacity from 9,500 to 120,000 beds stateside alone.

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Sunday morning, February 4, 1917, Mrs. Alice Montgomery, secretary of the local Red Cross chapter in Sandusky received a 300-word telegram from American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Instructions were two-fold.  Set up a “roomy, centrally located headquarters, rent free, and equipment for same…” to produce medical supplies and comfort bags. Secondly, names of nurses and potential nurses were to be collected.

Courses of instruction in nursing would be provided by the Bureau of Nursing Services in Washington.  Doctors and graduate nurses could also report to the Bureau in Washington. Volunteer men could also take first aid courses and organize a “sanitary corps” locally.

Wasting no time, Mrs. John Renner, president of the Sandusky chapter, organized a meeting for that very afternoon and began the work of rolling gauze and preparing medical supplies.

Monday, February 19, Huron began formation of their own chapter, hoping to attract at least 35 to 40 women locally. By April, they already reached 60, and set their new goal for 200. Men were asked to join as well as women.

Unfortunately, twenty years later, history was destined to repeat itself and a huge case of influenza struck our troops, first on our shores and shortly thereafter in the European theater, starting in France. Crowded, unsanitary conditions in camp and in the trenches were ultimately determined to be the cause this time, but not until more than one million men were affected with 30,000 of them dying before they even reached France.

History books are lax in mentioning it, but health related deaths exceeded combat deaths in World War I. Total non-combat deaths reached 63,000, while combat deaths accounted for 53,000.

Many were saved however, thanks in part to the Red Cross having assisted with the job of recruiting experienced nurses for the Army Nursing Corps, along with organizing many ambulance companies. The Red Cross also organized 50 hospitals of 1,000 beds each, at American universities across the country.

Today, the need is still there. Fortunately, not for war-related injuries specifically, but the Red Cross continues to prevent and alleviate human suffering in a multitude of emergencies.  Please consider volunteering at http://neoredcross.org.

Red Tie Affair A Sumptuous Treat

Fundraiser Helps Support Disaster Relief in Northeast Ohio

The American Red Cross supporters who attended the 2017 Red Tie Affair at Chez Francois in Vermillion not only helped ensure the mission of the Red Cross would continue, they ate like kings and queens.

The five course meal was paired with choice California wines and served at one of Northeast Ohio’s most celebrated restaurants, making it it an evening to remember.

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Click here for our photo album from the Saturday Night event.  Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer.