When disaster hits ... who ya gonna call?
The American Red Cross, that's who. Around here, and everywhere else in the U.S., the organization formed by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881, (and the only Congressionally chartered organization to provide aid to victims of disaster) is a familiar presence -- whether it's after a tornado in Wheatland, a gas explosion in Wauwatosa, or an apartment building conflagration in Racine.
Local Red Cross volunteers helped 297 Racine County residents recover their lives during the past year -- 31 of them from west of I-94. Walworth, Racine and Kenosha Counties are all the responsibility of Racine's Southeastern Wisconsin's Tri-County Red Cross office, which merged with Milwaukee's office 18 months ago.
More than 1,000 victims of local disasters -- house fires, floods, storms, and explosions -- were given shelter, food, financial assistance, and mental health counseling last year.
Right now, the Red Cross is looking for heroes -- people willing to help raise money for the Red Cross. The “Heroes for the American Red Cross” is a grassroots campaign in which local companies, school groups, church groups, civic clubs and individuals pledge to raise money for the local Red Cross chapter. All funds raised will be used to support Red Cross services such as disaster relief, disaster preparedness and training. "All money raised will support your neighbors in Racine County," says Debie Truckey, Community Relations Director of the American Red Cross in Southeastern Wisconsin.
The campaign will take place the last three weeks this month. Heroes have come up with fun and unique fund-raisers, so be on the lookout for them. The campaign events include:
All of May: O&H Bakery is selling "Red Cross cupcakes."
All of May: The Racine, Mt. Pleasant and Caledonia Fire Departments are offering three chances for people to win dinner and a ride with firefighters in their rig. Tickets are available from the firefighters, RAMAC, Red Cross Office, Corporate Volunteer Council, Chay’s Tae Kwon Do.
Thursday, May 8 : Noodles and Company, 5720 Washington Ave., will donate 25% of the cost of dinners purchased by guests who bring in a Red Cross flyer (copies available by calling 262-554-9997).
Saturday, May 10: Family Fest in Waterford is selling firefighter dinner tickets.
Tuesday, May 20: All McDonald's in Racine (except I-94) will donate 10 cents for every Southern Style chicken sandwich purchase.
Friday, May 23: The Mayor's Cookout, 730 Washington Ave., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., all proceeds to the Red Cross.
Saturday, May 24: Sam's Club, 6920 Regency Drive, will sell Racine On Board Monopoly for $10, or firefighter tickets for $5.
Sunday, May 25: Ivanhoe's, Ricky's and CasaBlanca in downtown Racine will hold MASH Memorial Day Madness, from 1 to 8 p.m., with bed races, character contests, specialty drinks to benefit the Red Cross.
Some companies with events planned include Johnson Diversey and Johnson Outdoors, which will hold blue jeans days; and Racine County, which is offering a casual dress week in return for employee donations.
Other companies that have signed on as corporate sponsors include: the Bank of Elmwood, Johnson Financial, M&I Bank, Sam's Club, SC Johnson, the Tavern League of Racine, Wal-Mart, Warren Industries, We Energies, WRJN, Fountain Hall and Kreuger Communications.
In addition, many downtown retailers are selling Red Cross squares for $1; purchasers' names will be posted on a square and put up on the retailers' walls. Find your square at RAMAC, Express Employment Professionals, Main Street General Store, JoJo's Toys, JavaVino, Greens and Goods, Copacetic, Common Scents.
Debie Truckey emphasizes that the Red Cross has the highest four-star rating given out by charitynavigator.com, a site that rates non-profits involved in fund-raising; fully 91 cents of every dollar donated goes into disaster relief, education and training; 3% goes into fund-raising, 3% into marketing and the rest into administration. "We emphasize and honor donor intent. For example, the Kenosha tornadoes received an outpouring of support from the community. We honored all designations. And when we received enough funds to cover our costs (which hardly ever happens!) I went back to the donors and told them we received enough money, and asked if I could put the money into our disaster pool in readiness for the next tragedy. In all cases, donors said yes."