Friday 08 October 2021
Courtesy photo / Red Cross
A Red Cross volunteer distributes food to a woman after a disaster in her local community.
SALT LAKE CITY – With the ongoing pandemic and frequent natural disasters across the country in recent months, the resources of the American Red Cross have been strained. Here in Utah, the Red Cross has been called in after windstorms, floods and fires, as well as individual events such as apartment fires.
Local Catholics could do a lot to help the agency and those suffering from these disasters, said Susan Thomas, parishioner of St. Thomas More and member of the board of directors of the Red Cross.
“Part of being Catholic is caring about the world around you and loving your neighbors,” she said. “Working with your local parish is great to have opportunities to help others and working with the American Red Cross is very similar. This allows you to be able to reach the people who need your help. “
Service opportunities with the Red Cross vary widely, from joining one of the organization’s disaster response teams to donating a few hours of IT work. The Red Cross offers online and in-person training to all of its volunteers, Thomas said.
Virtual volunteering opportunities are also available. In a local situation such as a fire in a house or apartment complex, these volunteers can connect displaced families with important resources such as shelter, food and clothing.
“Once the firefighters come in and extinguish the fire, they go,” Thomas said. “That’s when the Red Cross comes in, and the Red Cross works with families who need a place to stay, a hug and a shoulder to cry on. We can provide them with many useful resources.
“Helping a family with all of these things takes a lot of teamwork,” she added. Many of the logistical needs for individual and community disasters can be addressed virtually; hundreds of these cases occur every year, she said.
There are a variety of levels of commitment and time commitment, she said. “You can volunteer based on your abilities, flexibility and schedule needs. “
The Red Cross also needs monetary donations; information on the different ways to donate is available at redcross.org. The American Red Cross also operates blood donation centers.
“Donating blood is really important,” said Thomas. “In a disaster, you need blood and at different times of the year there are often blood shortages. Donating blood can help save lives.
“I just like to give back and do well,” Thomas said of his reason for serving. “I just take advantage of my Catholic parish and have enjoyed working with committees and the American Red Cross. We just get our sleeves up and do a little bit of work and help make the world a little better. ”
Helping the Red Cross and other service organizations encompasses many of the bodily works of mercy that Catholics use as a model to help them follow the example of Jesus Christ. These jobs include feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, dressing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.
The Red Cross follows local health and safety protocols in the event of a pandemic. For more information, visit https://www.redcross.org/local/utah.html or call the Utah Red Cross at 801-323-7000.