Interested in giving back to your community? Come to a Red Cross Volunteer Session!

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

January 23, 2020- Are you interested in making a difference in your community by assisting individuals in need?

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The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio has a critical need for volunteers to respond to local disasters, to assist at blood drives and to transport lifesaving blood.

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The Red Cross will be holding informational sessions across Northeast Ohio to help you learn about the many ways you can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer. You’ll hear from current volunteers and have an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll also have volunteer applications available at the sessions.

California Wildfires 2019

Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga County Sessions

Saturday, January 25th and Saturday, February 29th

10-11 AM

Red Cross Regional Headquarters

3747 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH

Summit, Portage and Media County Sessions

Saturday, February 1st and Saturday, March 1st

10-11 AM

Red Cross Akron Office

501 W. Market St., Akron, OH

Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Trumbull County Session

Wednesday, February 19th

8:30-10:30 AM

Hoge’s Restaurant

16128 E Liverpool Rd., East Liverpool, OH

To RSVP for one of the information sessions above, contact Gail Wernick at 216-431-3328 or gail.wernick@redcross.org.

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Can’t make it to a volunteer session, but interested in volunteering? Click here to visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to submit a volunteer application.

Alert: Critical need for blood and platelet donors

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

January 15, 2019- The American Red Cross is asking the public to kick off 2020 by doing something big: Give blood or platelets now to address the critical need for blood donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors.

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A shortfall in donations can cause delays in care

The family of 12-year-old Dagan Hawkins, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November, knows this all too well. “While at the hospital, Dagan needed platelet and blood transfusions,” said Dustin Hawkins, Dagan’s father. “There was a time when platelets had to be delivered from another location because they were not available.”

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Dagan Hawkins

You can help restock the shelves

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a critical need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Your support can help ensure blood products are there for patients going through cancer treatments, trauma victims, premature babies and others who depend on transfusions for survival.

Be a champion for patients in need

Super Bowl Giveaway (1)

To help tackle the current critical need for blood and platelets, the Red Cross has teamed up with the NFL to offer one lucky winner the chance to experience the Super Bowl live in Miami. Those who come to give by Jan. 19, 2020, will automatically be entered for a chance to win an exciting Super Bowl LIV getaway for two. The Super Bowl LIV getaway package includes two tickets to Super Bowl LIV, entry to the official NFL Tailgate, two tickets to Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center, round-trip airfare to Miami and three-night hotel accommodations (Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2020), and a $500 gift card for expenses. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Don’t wait to help. Make your game plan to give now and help save lives.

If you are unable to give now, but will be eligible by February 11, sign up to donate during the annual Landerhaven blood drive on February 11, 2020. Enjoy gourmet food, live music and receive a free t-shirt, as you spread the love to someone in need.

Division VP celebrates 50 years with the Red Cross

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

January 3, 2020- The start of the new year is a time to not only look forward to the future, but also to reflect on the past. It is fitting that 2020 is synonymous with vision. 2019 was a milestone year for Sue Richter, Crossroads Division vice president.

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Last year, Sue Richter celebrated her 50th anniversary with the American Red Cross, a trailblazing career that started during her time spent in Vietnam.

Sue exemplifies what it truly means to be a Red Crosser. Despite her career achievements and prominent title, Sue views no task too small when helping others in need and advancing the Red Cross’ mission.

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During a recent Sound the Alarm event in Bedford Heights, Sue joined volunteers to install free smoke alarms to help keep families and neighborhoods safe from home fires.

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During a recent regional staff meeting, the Northeast Ohio Region was honored by Sue taking time out of her jam-packed schedule to speak with employees. Her leadership was on full display.

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Having experienced Sue’s mission driven attitude and leadership numerous times, the region presented Sue with an award and a quilt designed by volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, as recognition for her remarkable 50 years of service.

Sue also graciously spoke to Jim McIntyre during a recent episode of the Northeast Ohio Region podcast Be A Hero.

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Sue Richter with her husband Frank

During the episode, Sue talked about career, how the Red Cross helped her meet her husband Frank and of the many Red Cross heroes she admires, she singled one out for making a big impact on her life.

From everyone in Northeast Ohio, thank you Sue for blazing a trail for many, being a role model to all and for continuing to spread the Red Cross’ mission each and every day!

Volunteers celebrating volunteers

By Kim Kroh, Stark and Muskingum Lakes executive director

December 26, 2019- Stark and Muskingum Lakes volunteer, Barb Thomas, was attending a disaster services department meeting earlier this month and was looking for ways to inspire, uplift, and build camaraderie among the disaster team. ‘Tis the season, and what better way to recognize volunteers than to host a holiday party.  She laughs, saying she may have overextended herself because only 4 disaster volunteers (out of 20) raised a hand indicating an interest in attending a holiday party.

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Nonetheless, Barb got right to work, and her first step was recruiting helpers. Tom and Gwen Johnson eagerly volunteered to assist. Planning was officially underway, and the invitations were distributed. Tom hung all the decorations, and being 6’3”, he was perfect for the job. Gwen used her handy scrapbooking tool to punch out dozens of snowflakes, and Barb made a keepsake ornament for every volunteer.

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Together they transformed the disaster services office into a space with intimate ambiance, colorful lighting, snowflakes, holiday trees, and festive tinsel spiraling down from the rafters. Appetizers, desserts, and punch were on the menu and each volunteer brought a dessert or appetizer to share. The invitation also requested the volunteers to wear an ugly Christmas sweater and holy moly, there were some doozies!

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All in all, more than 30 people attended the party, sharing laughs and creating new memories. Job well done Barb! You were very successful in building camaraderie and reminding our volunteers, being one yourself, just how valuable you are to YOUR American Red Cross!!

Red Cross and TravelCenters of America bring holiday joy to families following loss

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

December 20, 2019- On Dec. 18, the American Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Regional headquarters in Cleveland was a scene of giving, reunion and holiday spirit, as Red Cross volunteers and staff handed out toys to children whose families faced home fires this year. Now in its 21st year, the event is made possible by the generosity of TravelCenters of America, whose employees collected more than 600 toys this year.

In one of several festive gatherings, 17 families with 50 children braved the winter weather to attend. They were greeted by Red Cross representatives and guided to an age-appropriate section. Children then picked from an astonishing array of stuffed animals, games, books, dolls, play sets, toy vehicles, art supplies, learning kits and other toys.

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Holiday decorations and gift-wrapping supplies were available for adults, and cookies and cocoa were served. Many expressed gratitude.

“God has blessed us with the Red Cross and other agencies that help,” said Johnita Smith. “This definitely comes at just at the right time for me and my family, as Christmas would have been very hard without assistance. We are very grateful.”

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Similarly, Zoralys Cruz said her family lost everything and otherwise would not have had presents for Christmas, so the toy drive means a lot. She said her family is recovering little by little, and they are grateful for everything.

Nearly 200 more children in Northeast Ohio will receive toys thanks to TravelCenters of America. Similar events are occurring throughout Northeast Ohio. Each Red Cross chapter is holding toy distributions this week, and many volunteers are delivering to families who live far or are unable to attend.

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While the focus is on the families and children, Red Cross volunteers and staff also enjoy the event.

“The event itself is powerful on many different levels,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager of Disaster Cycle Services for the Northeast Ohio Region. “People who have suffered horrible disasters now have something to give their children for the holidays. It is also important that our team members take part in this happy occasion. After all the tragedies and difficulties they’ve faced throughout the year, they, too, are lifted by it. Our team members see those who were initially met on their worst day, but now in a happy situation. That’s why I love it.”

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I can attest to that, as I was one of the responders who assisted Johnita’s family. I feel fortunate to have been able to help following a disaster. Participating in the toy drive, seeing a family I assisted, now in a festive setting, and helping them select toys made the season a bit brighter.

Over the next several weeks, the remaining toys will be distributed to families facing home fires and other disasters. Such tragedies are especially difficult during the holidays, particularly for children, and a toy can bring comfort as a family begins to recover. Thanks to the employees of TravelCenters of America, the Red Cross can lift their spirits and brighten their holidays.

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Watch the video below to hear a special message from Tina Arundel, manager, corporate communications for TravelCenters of America.:

Visit out Flickr page to view more photos from the toy giveaway event.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Third annual door decorating contest spreads holiday cheer and joy

By John Bernard,  Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director

December 19, 2019- Editor’s note: The winner of the 3rd annual Northeast Ohio Region Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) holiday door decorating contest has been announced by John Bernard, the Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director. Like in previous years, we found his comments to be so entertaining that we couldn’t resist including them, along with photos of all 7 doors entered in this year’s competition.

OK, third year in a row. Was hoping for an upward trend. But, I suppose even Santa had tough years – that’s why he hired that bullied kid with the weird nose after all. Anyway, here we go.

Emily Probst, Regional Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager: Let It Snow

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Entire door decorated – with wrapping paper and an anorexic Santa straddling a let it snow ornament. Is this a Santa-came-in-like-a-wrecking-ball theme, borrowing from Miley Cyrus? First, that was 2013 and second, no one wants to see a naked Santa. So, thank you for at least putting clothes on him. I would have suggested a more timely approach – maybe Baby Yoda as Santa?

Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager: Merry Christmas with Santa’s Head and Three Big Snowflakes

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At first glance, meh. BUT, the Santa head is really nice. Very primitive – which is an “in” thing as far as decorating, as my wife tells me.  It’s not a chinoiserie Santa, but it’s still hot! Thank God it’s not “simple,” “clean” and made from “shiplap.” The long reign of terror under Joanna Gaines has come to an end!

Teresa Greenlief and Carrie Shultz, AmeriCorps American Red Cross Corps: The Chimney

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Did we NOT cover this a year ago?  We do NOT do fires. Especially ones with so much inflammable….wait a second, flammable….wait, let me get my thesaurus……..WHAT?  They mean the same thing. Well, regardless, so much stuff above it that can catch on fire! Yeah, that snowman would have melted. Holy Santa, look at the size of that one elf in that photo! He’s like 8 feet tall! Must be related to Buddy from the movie.

Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties: Pedro the Penguin Ugly Sweater

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Just…what?

Tim O’Toole added the following comments on the door: I think the incorporation of the Pedro theme was very well thought out, however, Pedro lacking both thumbs and fingers, it is unclear how he would have typed the associated message.  So obviously some foul play here.

Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter: Honoring Our Heroes

Tim Reichel Door

Going for the heartstrings approach, huh?  Might as well have put baby Yoda up there again.  Wait, you don’t know about Baby Yoda?  Jeez, get Disney + and watch the Mandalorian. Great Western! Anyway…..re those patches organized is the same geographic alignment as they would be on a map? Thank Santa there is not a Coast Guard patch up there!

Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer: The Wreath

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Can you honestly suck up to Gail any more? “I took her leadership tips, posted them on my door and put a wreath around them.” I bet you have a Joanna Gaines tattoo on your lower back.

Chad Whitaker, Regional Disaster Manager, Mass Care and Logistics: Two Doormats

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Had you gone all in with the Jimmy Buffet theme, you’d be the win. BUT, two door mats is like have the nice hand towels in the half bath for guests to look at BUT NOT USE AT ALL! Step over the good one. Well, which one is the good one?

So, with that….

The runner up is Honoring our Heroes. Obvious effort went into getting the patches and putting others before oneself pretty much sums up what it’s all about, right? (Tim Reichel)

The winner is the terribly unsafe, out of proportion, big-elf having chimney! Love seeing those Red Crossers at work, enjoying each other’s company and serving our clients.  Obvious time (not safety efforts) went into this effort. (Teresa Greenlief and Carrie Shultz)

It’s the spirit of giving that makes this holiday special. Every gift is a reflection of love that exists in our hearts. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

JB

Give something that truly means something this holiday season- Give blood!

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

December 16, 2019- The American Red Cross urgently needs donors of all blood types to donate blood or platelets and be the lifeline patients need this holiday season.

Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee 2019

The need for blood doesn’t take a holiday.

This holiday season there are thousands of patients who will be in the hospital instead of enjoying holiday parties, finishing their shopping or preparing for family gatherings. They’re counting on blood and platelet donors for their treatments.

Blood bank Campaign ceremony 2017

But a decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. Donors of all blood types, especially platelet donors and those with type O blood, are urgently needed to ensure a sufficient supply for patients.

Blood Donation in Murray, Utah 2014

Join the Red Cross at one of several holiday blood drives happening in northeast Ohio and help save lives this holiday season:

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019

Cuyahoga Falls Holiday Blood Drive

Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls

1989 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, 44221

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019

Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Blood Drive

The Atrium

1 Center Court, Cleveland, 44115

8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 20, 2019

Mahoning Valley Holiday Blood Drive

Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 5th Ave., Youngstown

Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave., Warren

9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 23, 2019

Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg Holiday Blood Drive

8971 Wilcox Dr., Twinsburg, 44087

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020

Landerhaven Blood Drive

Executive Caterers at Landerhaven

6111 Landerhaven Dr., Mayfield Heights, 44124

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Bloodmobile Blood Drive Columbia, South Carolina 2018

During the season of giving, please make time to give the gift of life. Appointments can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.