Local Collection Drive to Bring a Smile to Our Military

Author: Randi Benton, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Screeeech”! No, not the guy from Saved By The Bell, this is the sound of care packages being sealed and ready to ship to the troops after being filled with the countless items and supplies donated by the community in Northern California. Care packages? Donations? What’s the occasion, you ask? Well, of course that would be the third annual Operation Care Package – a joint effort between the American Red Cross Gold Country Region and KCRA/ KQCA to collect care package items, goods and supplies for our military, local and abroad.

Image-1-5“Care packages provide a touch of home and an opportunity to say “thank you” to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice,” said Tobrin Hewitt, Services to the Armed Forces Manager for the American Red Cross Gold Country Region.

Operation Care Package was underway from dawn ‘til dusk on Friday, June 10, 2016, receiving in a cornucopia of donations from hygiene products to books and snacks.. But, prior to the start of the event, at precisely 4 A.M. volunteers swarmed the empty car lot in front of the Toyota dealership at the Roseville Automall, a little bit like a hoard of sleep-deprived zombies but nonetheless ready and willing to set up the tents and have everything arranged for the day ahead.

Armed with some coffee, Red Cross and partner volunteers were fast at work when the first donations began to pour in. One lane was blocked off for drivers to pull up and unload their donations, and believe me when I say it was busier than an In ‘N Out drive thru on a Saturday night! In between the colossal amount of cars driving by to drop of various items and supplies for donation, Sutter Health drove in with a truck load full of hundreds of items and even the local chapter of the Girl Scout who donated 5,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

photoThis year’s Operation Care Package consisted of volunteers from the Red Cross, Blue Star Moms, Move America Forward, Retired Veterans, Current Servicemen and many more. Even a Cheer Squad from Oakmont High School took time out of their summer to help out with the event and cheer the drivers as they were driving by with their donations. Even more surprising, little kids were getting in on the action helping out their parents and excited to give back, or in this case sort out the items being received.

“Volunteers not only worked effortlessly to make this event a success, but they also made sure to look after one another,” said Robin DeCristofano from the Blue Star Moms. “Some of them were passing out icy cold strips to others to stay cool, handing out snacks, and ensuring everyone had a cold water bottle to stay hydrated. Overall, everyone was in jovial spirits.”

Throughout the course of the day, despite the mild heat and busy atmosphere, everyone was determined to make this day another proverbial win for the books. And I dare say it was! We were able to collect approximately 12,000 individual items which will help us put together more than 5500 care packages for military members deployed in Honduras serving in Joint Task Force-Bravo, Blue Star Moms, Marine Families, Yolo military families as well as Move America Forward and Corporal Palmer Foundation will receive items to send to service members.

As always, this event would not have been possible without the partnership and support from KCRA/KQCA, the Roseville Automall, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sutter Health, and Safe Credit Union.

Check out more the pictures from the event here.

 

Quiz: Are you savvy about swim safety?

It’s that time of the year again – the sun is out, the water’s warm and kids and adults alike are ready to dive into swim season.

Before you head to the pool, beach or your favorite swimming hole, take our 5-question Swim Safety Quiz – it’s fast, fun and full of safety tips that could make a real difference in an emergency.

swim quiz

The Red Cross and its partners train two million people a year in swim safety, and we’re working to cut drowning rates in half by making sure families know how to stay safe in and around water.

You can help by taking our 5-question Swim Safety Quiz right now and sharing it with your friends and family.

Thanks for making water safety a priority this summer!

Your Friends of the American Red Cross Gold Country Region.

Giving Back… Gives Friendships

Jess Chairez and Marcus Heningburg met through the Red Cross. They drive the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) together, and have developed a friendship that both are grateful for.

For Jess, joining the Red Cross was a way to recover after the loss of his son Joe. Joe was 24, a newly graduated police officer, with a history of helping others. He collapsed while making an arrest. “Joe pushed kindness on everyone.” Exclaimed Chairez proudly. As a testament to his son Joe Chairez says “I am so thankful for the Red Cross and Donor network west, to keep the legacy of my son alive, and helping people in the process, that’s the biggest blessing.” Joe will forever live in servitude, so will his father Jess. “Red Cross gives me different platforms to work from, it keeps me active, they don’t realize that they are healing my heart,” said Jess.

Jess’ first assignment with the Red Cross, immediately after joining, was ten years ago during Hurricane Katrina. He spent 4 weeks in service to the victims of the largest and third strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in the US at the time. “To hand someone a meal, and give them a hug, let them speak to you is helping them from one step to the next,’ Jess remembers “I am so thankful, it is such a healing to my heart.” Ten years later, Jess continues to serve the Gold Country region in different capacities. It doesn’t matter to Jess how big or small the need is, “People need hugs, and someone to talk to. The more I help people, the better I feel inside of me. I’m trying to give back.”

For Marcus Heningburg… the Red Cross journey began in Mobile, Alabama many years ago. His family taught him early on, that if you can help, you should, and there is always some way you can help. Marcus stood in service to this country with the Air Force, and then with the penal service. By the adage that was instilled in him early on, he joined the Red Cross. Marcus also found was a new friend, another selfless individual, Jess Chairez.

Marcus is humble and likes getting involved in preparedness events as well as disasters. But there is never a dull moment in the Red Cross and he’s done so much. Working in telethons, installing smoke detectors, delivering mattresses to veterans, working as a parking lot attendant during the the California State Fair, and even participating in staff events at the headquarters like potlucks and staff meetings. “How can I help?” Red Cross answers that question for me and many of us,” smiles Marcus humbly. “Seeing someone with a smile on their face, and shaking their hands, is my reward. It’s easy.” Said Marcus “It’s so easy working with Jess, I do it as much as I can. He allows me to do as much as he does, He is always going. I try to keep up.” Meanwhile, Jess adds “You don’t have to force the guy, he wants to do it. You can see the compassion, it might be a parking lot one day, and delivering a mattress another. Marcus does it with a smile on his face and with open arms.”


Pairing up to drive the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), these two enter into a partnership, that adds to each individual in ways unimaginable. Red Cross allows them the  platform in which to reflect a little bit of themselves to those who need it. Sometimes it’s a neighbor, sometimes a stranger. It doesn’t matter which, be a mirror; with a smile. A hug, a meal or your time, as Jess and Marcus do. Red Cross can help you serve those in your community; show you an opportunity to give. It may also connect you, as it did Jess and Marcus, with your long lost best friend.

Stand with our service members

Memorial Day is one of the most important days of the year – and not just because it heralds the beginning of summer. This day brings us together for a reason we can all stand behind: honoring the men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country.

Our military heroes put their lives at risk every day to protect our freedom and safety, and every safe homecoming is a reason to give thanks. But for veterans and their families, the joy of homecoming is often followed by a difficult transition period as they adjust to changes, reestablish bonds and cope with reintegration into civilian life.

This Memorial Day, you can honor our veterans and service members by sponsoring Reconnection Workshops to help service members, veterans and their families reengage in civilian life.

  • $68 provides a Reconnection Workshop for 1 participant.
  • $136 provides a Reconnection Workshop for 2 participants.
  • $272 provides a Reconnection Workshop for 4 participants.
  • $680 provides a Reconnection Workshop for 10 participants.

Give now to make a meaningful difference.

The Red Cross is proud to offer Reconnection Workshops to service members, veterans and their families, including children and teens, to help ease the transition home and build communication and coping skills. It’s only because of the support of people like you that we are able to keep these workshops 100 percent free to those impacted by military deployment.

Sponsor a Reconnection Workshop today to help keep this life-changing program going strong for our service members.

Your gift will help returning service members get the support they need to live full, connected lives. You’ll also be helping to send the powerful message that we stand with our military families not only during deployment, but also during the days and months following their return home.

Thank you for everything you do for our military heroes, this Memorial Day and every day.

A Trip to IKEA, But Not to Shop: IKEA Donates 100 Comfort Kits

By Marlene Stamper, Public Affairs Volunteer, Photos by Bob Eger    A few days ago I went to the IKEA store in West Sacramento. For me, a trip to IKEA is usually about new throw pillows or maybe something to brighten up the kitchen or patio. But this trip was different. It was not about shopping or buying stuff, it was special. Why? Because I got to spend time with some great IKEA folks who were packing up 100 bright blue shopping bags with cool stuff to donate to the American Red Cross.

When I got to the conference room where the IKEA team was working (although they seemed to be having too much fun to call it “work”) they had already organized a colorful assembly line of towels, washcloths, sheet sets, pillows, and teddy bears. They were busily packing everything into shopping bags ready for giving. We call these bags “comfort kits.” It didn’t take long for these energetic workers to complete the job of assembling 100 comfort kits.

Once the kits were packed, the team put everything into carts and then we all headed down to the parking lot for the final step—loading up the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). What an enthusiastic and energetic team! And what a pleasure for me to spend a little time with them!

Thanks to these folks and everyone at IKEA, people in emergency situations will receive the comfort of new fresh bedding, pillows, and towels. Maybe this sounds a bit humdrum to you, but imagine if you were trying to rebuild your life after a fire, you might feel a little different. In fact, a Red Crosser told me when she delivered comfort kits to victims of last summer’s Butte Fire, they reacted as if she’d given them “a pot of gold.” But, it’s not just recipients of the comfort kits who benefit. I spoke to several members of the IKEA team who put together the kits. They were proud to work for IKEA because IKEA is committed to helping the community. Angel R. told me that it makes him happy to work for IKEA due to their support for this great cause. Well, Angel, what IKEA and people like you do makes a lot of people happy, including me. Thanks, again to you and everyone at IKEA!

Here’s the official scoop on the five-year partnership between the American Red Cross and IKEA:

IKEA has generously committed to a national in-kind donation of 4,300 “IKEA Care Packages” nationwide for Red Cross disaster clients. Annually they have committed to provide 100 packages per IKEA location across the United States (currently 41 IKEA stores and 2 IKEA Offices) to 31 American Red Cross Regional offices.

The care packages include the following items:

  • 1- 4 pack washcloths
  • 1-bath towel
  • 2-standard pillow cases
  • 2-pillows
  • 1-queen flat sheet
  • 1-queen fitted sheet
  • 1-optional plush toy
  • 1-large blue plastic bag —shopping bag that contains all of the items.

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Also, IKEA comes through when times get tough. Michelle LaPierre Bell, Executive Director, Northeastern California Chapter told me that IKEA donated an additional 400 each of towels, washcloths, and lap blankets for victims of last summer’s fires here in California. Currently, we are in year two of our five-year partnership with IKEA. And, as Michelle said, “IKEA is a great partner and we look forward to many more years of partnering with them.”

 

Gold Country Volunteer Making an Impact Across the Country

Henjeremiah 6ry Braxton was among the first to assist the American Red Cross when he and his neighbors were caught in the path of rising water in the Natchez, Louisiana, area. Every day for nearly a week, he did whatever he could do to lend a hand, from helping to distribute cleanup kits to showing volunteers flood-damaged areas.

“The Bible says put my hometown first and put myself last, and I think God will bless me for that,” Henry said one recent evening at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Natchez, where the Red Cross offered hot meals, cleanup supplies, emotional support and casework assistance.

He was among dozens who attended, but he wasn’t there to seek help. Rather, he assisted people carrying cleanup supplies and other items to their vehicles.

Inside the church, Henry reached into his pocket and pulled out a Red Cross challenge coin that he received for his efforts—a coin that few receive and even fewer have ever seen. When he displayed the coin, it was obvious to Red Cross volunteers that Henry was a person who had been singled out for recognition.

“It was a high honor and brought tears to my eyes. I was just doing the best I could to help the people needing help,” he said.

Henry, a big man with rippling muscles and an infectious smile, said his late mother raised him to be kind to others and to go to church. To honor her, Henry said his philosophy is simple: “Any way I can help out, I will.”

As he talked, it was clear that Henry deserved more than the thanks of a grateful Red Cross. Henry said he hadn’t signed up with the Red Cross for help, and with that, he

jeremiah 3
Jeremiah Norrell, a volunteer from Sacramento assisting Henry in Louisiana

was introduced to Jeremiah Norrell, a Red Cross Jeremiah Norrell, a Red Cross caseworker from the Sacramento, California area. Henry explained how he had lost his refrigerator, stove and furniture to rising water, which soaked his floors. Yet he hadn’t asked for anything.

Henry indeed qualified for Red Cross immediate assistance, as he and Jeremiah together checked a map to see that his home was in a flooded area. He was eligible for supplemental Red Cross assistance and in position to be referred to various partner agencies for things such as clothing and furniture.

As he left, Henry stopped and hugged volunteers who helped him get assistance. When he walked out the door, he turned around, waved and smiled before disappearing into the night.

—Carl Manning/American Red Cross

 

CPR In High School Legislation Passes First Committee

Sacramento, CA, (Wednesday, April 6, 2016) – Today, the Assembly Education Committee approved Assembly Bill 1719, authored by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D – Chino) on a 6-0 vote. The measure stands to create a generation of lifesavers by ensuring high school students learn CPR before they graduate high school.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States yet too few people know how to perform CPR,” says Gary Strong, CEO of the American Red Cross Gold Country Region. “Our lawmakers have a bill before them that could create a generation of lifesavers by requiring hands-on CPR training before high school graduation. We support AB 1719 as it will better prepare our students; therefore, build prepared communities.”

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Nearly 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside the hospital each year, and sadly, only 10 percent survive. In addition, a recent study by the National Institutes of Health shows CPR to be effective in children and adolescents who suffer from non-traumatic cardiac arrest due to drowning, electrocution, or choking. Despite these statistics, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac or drowning emergency because they do not know how to perform CPR.  Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

pictures of the 4 new commissioners
Assembly member Freddie Rodriguez (District 52)

“CPR is one of the most important life skills a person can have,” said Rodriguez. “By teaching CPR in high school, we are sending students into the world with essential, life-saving skills.”

Under AB 1719, school districts would be required to teach hands-only CPR in any required high school course, such as P.E. or Health. The bill is co-sponsored by the American Red Cross and American Heart Association who have led the effort to pass similar legislation in 27 other states.

“The American Heart Association’s goal is to teach lifesaving CPR skills to as many teens and young adults as possible in California to help keep our communities safer, year after year,” said Dr. Franklin Pratt, medical director of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “Having a new generation of lifesavers will deliver an increased amount of safety and security to all of our communities.”

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Assemblymember Rodriguez is Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Local Emergency Preparedness, and Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.  He represents the 52nd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona and portions of unincorporated Fontana