Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I'm Thankful For

After a nice Thanksgiving break, I wanted to take the time to write about the impact interning for the Central Texas chapter of the American Red Cross has had on me, and how thankful I am to have had this opportunity.

I am thankful for the hands-on experience I have been exposed to through this internship.

I am thankful for my supervisor and the rest of the Red Cross staff members that have welcomed me into their Red Cross family and have helped me learn the ins and outs of the organization.

I am thankful for all the generous volunteers and donors who are the reason why the American Red Cross is able to do so much and that I have had the opportunity to see this generosity make a difference in our community.

I am thankful for being a part of the Central Texas chapter and how being a part of this great organization reminds me how great it feels to give back.

What are you thankful this holiday season? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More Thanksgving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving brings family and friends together to share a good meal, laughter and football. However, it can also bring unexpected health hazards like food poisoning and choking.

Food Poisoning
Eating undercooked turkey can be a health hazard. If thawing a turkey at a temperature above 40 degrees Farenheit, salmonella and other bacteria can grow and cause food poisoning. To avoid this 
there are some methods for safe defrosting. The turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator—one day for every 5 lbs. of the bird. The turkey can be submerged in water if it is in leak-proof packaging—30 minutes for every pound. The water should be changed every half hour. It's also safe to defrost a turkey in a microwave. Remove any packaging and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Regardless of what thawing method you use, it is important to cook your turkey right after thawing.

Food poisoning can also happen if leftovers are not stored correctly. Leftovers must be stored two hours after serving. If they are going to be eaten within three days, store in the refrigerator, otherwise store leftovers in the freezer. Make sure to remove the bones from the meat before storing.   

Choking can occur while tasting the Thanksgiving meal you are preparing or while your enjoying your dinner with loved ones. The first step is to call 9-1-1 if loved one is having problems breathing or speaking. Next, we recommend the use of the FIVE-and-FIVE technique. The first step is to give the choking victim five back blows, followed by five abdominal thrusts. Repeat these steps until object is forced out, person can breathe or becomes unconscious. If you are alone you can follow the same technique using your hand or by pressing your abdomen firmly on the back of a chair.

For more Thanksgiving safety tips visit the American Red Cross
Have a fun and safe Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Safety First During Holiday Travel

According to a new AAA suvey there is an expected 42.5 million Americans who will be traveling at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving holiday. That is a 4 percent increase from last year and most travelers are expected to use our nation's roadways to reach their destinations.
To arrive safely to your destination, here are a few safety tips to consider before hitting the road:
  • Know when to travel. AAA predicts that 90 percent of travelers will be traveling by road to reach their destination and both Wednesday and Sunday afternoons will be the busiest times on the roads.
  • Make sure your car is in good working order.
  • Start out with a full, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Get 6-8 hours of sleep the night before. Fatigue decreases awareness and reaction time.
  • Avoid distractions like using your cell phone while driving.
  • Observe speed limits and be mindful of road work and road signs.
  • Make frequent stops.  During long trips, rotate drivers.  If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • Check road conditions and plan accordingly.
  • If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won't drink.
It is also recommended that you keep an emergency preparedness kit in your car. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. The Red Cross Deluxe Auto Safety Kit is a great solution to help people prepare for emergencies on the road and is available in the Red Cross Store at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turkey Fryer Fire Danger

In this YouTube video, State Farm demonstrates the dangers of using a deep fryer if not used correctly. Deep fryers have become a favorite during the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, because of their quick and tasty result. However, these handy cooking appliances can be dangerous if not used correctly. Here are some safety tips to take into consideration before using your deep fryer this holiday season.

  • Turkey fryers should always be placed outside, away from the home, fences or other structures and combustible materials. Avoid wooden decks.
  • Many deep fryers do not come with a thermostat. This can be dangerous because if left unattended the unit may overheat the oil, so make sure to buy a reliable thermostat.
  • To reduce the chance of tipping, place fryer on a flat surface.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful of marinades before placing it in the pot. Excess water in partially frozen turkeys will cause the pot to overflow, resulting in a fire hazard. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every 5 lbs of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
  • Be careful to not overfill your turkey fryer with oil. To determine the correct amount of oil for your fryer, put the actual turkey you will be frying into the basket and then into the empty pot. Add enough water to cover the turkey by about two inches. Take out the turkey and measure how much water is in the pot. That is how much oil you will need.
  • Make sure there is a fire extinguisher close by. Never use water to put out a grease fire.
  • There are no insulated handles on deep fryers and lid and handles become very hot and can cause severe burns. Cover your hands by wearing leather gloves and wear protective eyewear if possible.
Visit here for more Thanksgiving safety tips.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Help Support Fire Victims this Holiday Season

A sudden house fire can leave a family without shelter and their essential day to day necessities and can be a devastating time for them. Therefore, it is important for us to be prepared to provide families with essentials that they may need after a house fire.

With the holiday season here, the American Red Cross offers a great way of helping house fire victims get back on their feet through the annual Holiday Giving Catalog. The Holiday Giving Catalog gives you the opportunity chose exactly what your donations will be going to. Whether you would like to support a family with shelter and food for a day or blankets after a fire, there are plenty of ways to help.

For the complete Holiday Giving Catalog please visit the American Red Cross.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Practice Kitchen Safety this Thanksgiving

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fires are more than twice as likely to occur on Thanksgiving day compared to an average day. This amounts to more than 4,000 fires on Thanksgiving day. In addition to making sure there is a working fire alarm in your home there are other easy safety precautions you can take to make this a fun and safe holiday.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires Thanksgiving day. About 90 percent of fires are caused by unattended cooking.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire like potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources.
  •  Wear tighter fitting clothes with short sleeves that are out of the way when cooking. 
  • Designate a "kid-free zone" at least three feet away from the stove and other hot surfaces.
  • If using a deep fryer when cooking, keep deep fryer outside away from walls, fences and other structures.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Turn handles of pots and pans inward to avoid accidents.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food make sure to check it regularly, stay in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Follow all manufacturer guidelines regarding the appropriate use of appliances.
  • After guests leave, walk around the house to make sure all candles and smoking materials are extinguished.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Mail for Heroes


For the fifth year the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes will partner together for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The program is designed to empower everyday Americans to "share a piece of home" with our service men and women as a way of thanking them for their sacrifice.

The American Red Cross of Central Texas is inviting the community to participate in Holiday Mail for Heroes. From now until December 9 the public is invited to send cards encouragement and thanks to our service members, veterans and their families. Please send all mail to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

This year the American Red Cross is partnering with Simon Malls once again. Cards for soldiers can be dropped of at any of these Simon Mall Austin locations:    
  • Barton Creek Square Mall- 2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy.
  • Lakeline Mall- 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive
  • The Domain- 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 210
For more information about Holiday Mail for Heroes and specific guidelines please visit www.redcross/

You can also connect with other card-senders by using the Twitter  hashtag #holidaymail.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Service to the Armed Forces

With Veterans' Day this Friday, we would like to remind our community about some of the services the American Red Cross offers to the U.S. Armed Forces.

A great part of the American Red Cross is to provide emergency-related services to our military, veterans and their families. One of the services we offer is emergency communications service. This allows our deployed men and women to have a way of communicating with their families and loved ones at any time. This can be extremely valuable especially if someone in the family is ill or expecting a baby. The service is reliable and all information is kept confidential and verified. The information provided also helps military authorities process emergency leaves or extensions.

Financial Aid/General Service members and their families can experience unique financial problems. These may include a delayed pay allotment, financial neglect of family members or emergency travel expenses. The American Red Cross can help to resolve these problems through referrals to other appropriate resources and coordinating loans from military aid societies.

To request help, you can call  (512) 928-4271 and request to speak with our SAF Caseworker.
Please be prepared to provide the service member's:   
  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Branch of Service
  • Rank
  • Military Unit
For more information please visit the American Red Cross of Central Texas.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Girl Scouts Make Thank You Cards For Our Veterans

Volunteers and various organizations have been taking time to show their appreciation by making thank you cards to the many veterans who have dedicated themselves to keeping us safe. Last Friday, a group of girl scouts were in our office making cards and writing thank you notes for our veterans. This is a great example of how everyone can volunteer and do their part in thanking our veterans for all that they have done.
These cards will be distributed during the Veterans' Day Parade on November 11.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who have helped make this a memoral day for our veterans. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The American Red Cross of Central Texas would like to wish you a safe and fun Halloween. Make sure to take a look at our Lucky 13 Tips for Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shoo Flu Don't Bother Me!

It's cold out there! Our new fall weather really brings it home that winter is coming and flu season is here. If you haven't thought about the flu yet this year, now is the time to get active about staying well this flu season.
What is the flu?
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by various strains of viruses. Flu season in the United States starts every fall and ends in the spring. This type of flu is also known as the seasonal flu and affects 5 to 20 percent of Americans every year. Influenza as harmless at may seem can be very dangerous if not taken care of properly. About 23,600 deaths occur each year in the United States because of flu-related causes.
Flu Symptoms
  • High fever
  • Headaches
  • Severe body aches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
  • NOTE: Having all of these symptoms does not neccessarily mean you have the flu. Many different illnesses have similar symptoms, so it is best to visit your healthcare provider who can provide a better diagnostic.
How Can I avoid the flu?
  • The flu vaccine is the best way of preventing the flu and is available every year in the United States. For a better chance of protection, make sure to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. Here are a few locations offering the flu vaccine in the area:
  • Practice good health habits like eating a balanced diet, getting enough rest, drinking enough fluids and excercising. This will help maintain your body's resistence to infections.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid or minimize contact with sick people that can spread the flu.
Go get your flu shot!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Luncheon with "Miracle on the Hudson" survivor, Dave Sanders, tomorrow

Join us tomorrow for the 2011 Bravo for Bravery Luncheon to hear Dave Sanders, survivor of US Airways Flight 1549, tell his inspiring story and explain how the American Red Cross helped him through this time.

Luncehon will be tomorrow October 27, 2011 from 11:30-1:30. Complimentary lunch will be provided. We ask you please wear business attire.

If you have any questions or to RSVP, please contact Development Associate Jessica Levine at

Monday, October 24, 2011

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail: Halloween Night Safety Tips

Halloween is only a week awa! And there is plenty for you and your family to do in Austin, from festivals to Halloween parties. All of this can be fun, but also a little worrisome for parents. So before you head out the door to enjoy your Halloween festivities take a look at some of our safety tips to help make this an enjoyable Halloween for you and your family:

Safety in numbers: Have a trusted adult with your children at all times. If they are older and are going with friends, know what route they will be taking and have their contact information in case of an emergency. Also, see that at least one person in the group has a charged cell phone that they can use.
Other safety tips:
  • Stay in well lit areas and use sidewalks. Do not take shortcuts across yards or allys.
  • Never go into a stranger's home.
  • Pedestrian injuries are the most common so make sure to communicate where you are going if your group is split up.
  • Stay in well lit areas and use sidewalks if available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
  • Although cold weather in Austin is still a few weeks away, make sure to take a light sweater for you and your kids to help prevent getting sick.
For more Halloween Safety Tips, visit the American Red Cross.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Halloween Costume Safety Tips

    For kids, Halloween means they can dress up as anything they want for a night. Whether they may want to be a scary vampire or pretty princess, there are some things to take into consideration while shopping for your child's costume:
    • Make sure children wear bright colors. Bright colors are much more noticeable to drivers at night. If your child's costume is a dark color, adding reflective tape or safety light to their costumes can help them be more visible at night.
    • Also, wearing well-fitted costumes and comfortable shoes will help prevent falls or trips that can be caused by long hemlines.
    • Opt for makeup instead of a mask. Masks can make it hard to hear and block your child's peripheral view.
    • Make sure to test makeup in a small area first and to take off before bedtime to prevent irritation.
    • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
    For more Halloween Safety Tips, visit the American Red Cross.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    "Hams" Test Emergency Communications Teams Up with the American Red Cross of Central Texas

    American Red Cross volunteer learns the importance of ham radios. 

    The American Red Cross of Central Texas and Travis County Amateur Radio will partner to replicate a disaster scenario on Saturday, November 5, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m at the Gus Garcia Recreation Center and the American Red Cross of Central Texas offices. The purpose is to practice response and support capacity with the use of area Amateur Radio operators, also known as "hams". 

    Using emergency powered radios and working with local agencies, the hams will have only a few hours to create extensive radio communication networks which can be used should there be a failure or overload of normal services. The hams' ability to get back "on the air" quickly is critical following major incidents. In addition, the ham radio operators provide "interoperability". This means they can pass information between the many government and volunteer agencies which are needed in disasters but often have incompatible communication systems.

    Amateur Radio volunteer operators around the country respond to many calls for aid every year. They provide their services and equipment free of charge to their communities, saving both lives and thousands of dollars for neighbors. During Hurricane Irene, the hams were critical in providing immediate, ground-level reports to the National Weather Service. After the storm, hams continued to provide help in the many flooded communities and areas that lost electric power.

    There is no doubt that these operators take their work very seriously. They are "Amateurs" only in that they are not paid, but their service in a disaster can be priceless.

    The Amateur Radio Services is a national partner of the American Red Cross. We are excited to be a part of their annual simulated emergency test, and feel that this will help us communicate and respond more efficiently the next time there is a disaster or emergency in our area. Thank you Amateur Radio Services for all of your help!

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Fire Extinguishers and Smoke Alarms

    Ok, so perhaps this post I mostly did for my benefit, but maybe a lot of you are in the same boat as me and this will be beneficial to you as well. Of course, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are vital when it comes to home fires, but they are not things that we think about on a daily basis, at least for me.

    It's not until I started interning with the American Red Cross and the recent wildfires in Central Texas, that I realized how prevalent house fires are and how much of a disaster they can cause. Being Fire Prevention Week, I thought it would be a good idea to learn more about the proper care of smoke alarms and use of fire extinguishers and share this information on here.

    Fire Extinguishers
    • Make sure you are trained by your local fire department before using a fire extinguisher.
    • Only use a fire extinguisher if it is a small fire that has been contained and fire department has been called.
    • Make sure everyone in the home has evacuated before using.
    • Remember the word PASS:
      • Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and others.
      • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
      • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
      • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Step 3: Be Informed

    The last step is to be informed. Learn about what the most prevalent disasters and emergencies are in your area. These can range from personal emergencies that only affect you and your family to natural disasters that can affect your entire community.
    • Know the different weather alerts and their meanings such as "warning" and "watch" and the actions you must take for each. A "watch" means that conditions are right for dangerous weather. In other words, to "watch" for potential dangerous weather in your area. For short-term weather events, like tornadoes, this means that the current weather conditions may cause a tornado to form. In longer-lived events, like hurricanes, a "watch" means that there is no immediate threat yet. A "warning" on the other hand means that dangerous weather is in the area.
    • Know what actions you should take in new areas, for example, if you are traveling or just recently moved locations.
    • Make sure at least one family member is trained in first aid and CPR and knows how to use a automted external defibrilator (AED).
    • Encourage family and friends to be informed and share what you have learned with them.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Step 2: Make a Plan

    Step two is in preparedness is to make a plan. Meet with your family or household members to discuss how to prepare and respond to disasters that are most likely to happen where you are whether you are at home, school, or work. As a way to get everyone involved, assign a specific task to everyone in the household and work as a team. This way everyone has a better idea of what to do.

    Map out and practice an evacuation from your home in case of a fire or any other emergency. Have a plan of where you would go whether it is a hotel/motel or a friend's home in a safe location. Practice your evacuation plan at least twice a year and plan alternate routes in case roads may be blocked. Also, don't forget about your furry friends, and have contact information on pet friendly hotels/ motels and animal shelters that are nearby.

    In case your family is separated have a plan of how to contact each other. Plan to meet outside the home in case of a fire our outside of your community in case you are unable to go back home. Also, it important to have a person of contact who is not in the same household that you can get in touch with to inform family and friends you are safe and well. Make sure that your emergency contact is aware that he or she is your household's contact and that everyone has this contact information with them.

    For more information about fire prevention and safety, visit here.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Be Red Cross Ready: Step 1 Get a Kit

    Disasters can happen anywhere and come without warning. These three steps can help you be prepared: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed.

    Get a Kit
    It is important to keep an emergency kit in your home with the essential supplies you and your family may need in case of a disaster or any other emergency. Make sure that the kit is easy to carry in case you must evacuate your home. Here are some basic supplies to start your kit:
    • Water: One gallon per person, per day ( 3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
    • Food: non-parishable ( 3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
    • Flashlight
    • Battery-powered radio
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Medications (7-day supply)
    • Multi-purpose tool
    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/ lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
    • Cell phone with chargers
    • Family and emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket
    • Map(s) of the area
    You may also want to add other items to your kit based on your family members' needs like specific medical supplies, baby supplies or pet supplies.

    For the complete list of suggested supplies visit here.
    Stay tuned for the next two steps you can take to be Red Cross Ready.  

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Social Media in Disasters

    With Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+... the list goes on and on. Social media has grown tremendously over the last few years. We are no longer only using these social tools to expand our social circle. Because of its fast pace, many people are turning to the various social tools to give and receive information during disasters or emergencies. I think it is a great way to communicate information rapidly, but what happens when it's not the right information?

    Although there are many great examples of social media gone right, people can also be misinformed. Many state, government, and local organizations have used social media as a way to disseminate important information regarding emergencies or disasters happening in the area, but sometimes outside sources may misinform the public in their attempt to help. During disaster response and emergencies things can happen so quickly and drastically that this may cause this misinformation.

    Make sure to always call or check the website to stay informed about disasters or emergencies.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Want a creative way to donate to the American Red Cross?

    During the month of August Threadless challenged artistic minds to create a t-shirt design with the theme of "Everyday Heroes" in mind. The challenge was a way to celebrate those people who help out their communities whether it is by donating blood or preparing meals for others. Each year the American Red Cross responds to about 700,000 disasters across the country and owes much of this to the many volunteers who shape the Red Cross.

    The winning design is now available on Threadless and 25% of each t-shirt sale will be donated to the American Red Cross.

    Click here to find out about other ways to help the American Red Cross.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    October 9-15 is Fire Prevention Week

    American Red Cross volunteer inspects the damage of a house fire in Central Texas.

    Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15, and the American Red Cross encourages families to learn more about fire prevention and what to do in case of a fire.    

    House fires are the number one disaster that Americans face, and as the holidays and cold weather approach, house fires tend to increase. Locally, the American Red Cross of Central Texas alone responds to an average of one house fire every two days. 

    Here are a few tips on how to keep your home safe:
    • Make sure there is a working smoke alarm in every level of your home. Batteries should be replaced every year for most standard alarms.
    • Develop an escape plan. It is important that everyone in your home to have an immediate escape plan in case of a fire.
    • Keep matches and other fire related items away from children.
    • Keep anything that can catch on fire like dish towels and plastic away from stove when cooking .  
    In the coming weeks we will have more information on how to keep your home safe during the holiday season.  

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    Tips to Stay Well after a Disaster

    Red Cross volunteer Felicia Adams of Austin talks to Shannon Shine, a woman from Bastrop who came to the Red Cross shelter overwhelmed and looking for help after losing her house in the wildfires. 

    Natural disasters can cause severe material damage and can also bring about a lot of stress. Disasters affect  not only those people who may have lost their homes, but also volunteers or workers helping those affected.
    During the recent wildfires in Central Texas, not only was the American Red Cross involved in making sure residents had the shelter, food, and medical care they needed after being evacuated from their homes, but also that emotional support was given. American Red Cross counselors provided this support by visiting Red Cross shelters and the communities affected by the wildfires to provide counseling to residents in the area.

    Disasters like the recent wildfires affect all of us in some way. It's important that we all take time to take care of ourselves and each other.

    Here are a few tips to help stay well:
    • Take care of your safety. One of the first steps to take is to make sure that you and your family have safe place to stay and that all medical necessities are being met.
    • Eat healthy. It is important to drink plenty of water and maintain a balanced diet during time of stress.
    • Get some rest. Getting sleep will help you cope better and relieve some of the stress you may be experiencing.
    • Stay connected with family and friends. The Red Cross offers a way of helping you get in contact with family and friends to let them know you are safe and well. Staying connected and having emotional support from loved ones as well as giving is one of the most important things to do during this time.
    • Set priorities. It is important to tackle things in small steps and not attempt to do everything at once so that you do not feel overwhelmed with so much to do.
    • Gather information about assistance and resources to help you and your family on how to proceed after the disaster. 
    • Stay positive. Remember how you have gotten through stressful situations in the past and that there are many resources available that will also help through this situation.
    For these and other helpful tips about taking care of your emotional needs after a disaster you can visit this page.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Home Depot Lends a Helping Hand

    American Red Cross volunteers Conrado and Alicia Soto prepare Home Depot buckets with cleaning supplies for Bastrop residents.

    Soon after the Central Texas wildfires broke out, the Home Depot was quick to offer a helping hand. As a member of the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, the Home Depot plays a crucial role helping the American Red Cross in disaster relief efforts.

    The American Red Cross was able to set up a bulk distribution center at the Bastrop Home Depot where Red Cross volunteers passed out essential necessities, like cleaning supplies, sifters, and shovels, to Bastrop residents affected by the wildfires.

    The shovels, cleaning supplies, and material for the sifters were purchased by the American Red Cross, but we could have not done it without the Home Depot. Not only did the Home Depot allow us to set up a distribution center at their Bastrop location, but many of their employees volunteered their time to build the sifters that were handed out to the residents.

    Volunteer Conrado Soto helps Bastrop resident, Humberto Castelan, sift through the ashes of what once used to be his home.

    As simple as these sifters may seem, they can help residents look for lost valuables and family heirlooms they may have thought were lost in the fires. To learn more about how these sifters helped area residents cope with the wildfires you can visit: Sifting Through the Ashes

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Music for a Good Cause

    As an intern for the Red Cross I got the great opportunity to attend one of the many Red Cross fundraisers being held in the Austin area. Being a music lover I jumped at the opportunity to check out some local bands that wanted to do something for their community. 

    Local Austinites, Amarah Ulghani and Talib Abdullahi, wanted to do something to help their community and those affected by the recent wildfires in central Texas, so in a week they called their friends and came up with Music for Bastrop, which was held Thursday, September 15 at the Spider House Ballroom. 

    Music for Bastrop featured Amarah’s band, The Sour Notes, and 7 other bands. When talking to Amarah I could tell how much she wanted to help the Bastrop community and how close she felt to the American Red Cross.

    “We wanted to do something to help the community and we wanted the money to go towards an organization that we felt would do a great job. Having volunteered with the Red Cross before, I felt that this would be a great organization to donate to.”

     All night the bands were taking clothing and food donations as well as other necessities to be donated to the Central Texas Food Bank. All cover proceeds were donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund as well as with other monetary donations collected. In total, this amazing benefit concert raised over $2,000. 

    Overall, this was such a fun experience. It was awesome to see how motivated young people were to help out our community, and I got to hear a lot of new bands that I can't wait to see again. Definitely a successful night!

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Nana's Garden

    “This is it,” said Shirley Ellett.  “This is all that’s left of ‘Nana’s Garden.’”

    The Texas grandmother of two points to the only stone on her scorched land that appears to be untouched by recent wildfires.

    “My granddaughters painted this rock for me,” explained Ellett as she struggled to lift the heavy stone.  “And when we came home we saw we had lost everything.  Everything, but this.”

    Ellett is surrounded by family, including her grandkids, and she’s covered in a blanket she received from the American Red Cross.   She’s using the blanket to keep herself dry from an afternoon storm that rolled into Bastrop County this weekend.

    “The rain would have been nice a week ago,” she said.  Thankfully I had this blanket inside my kit.”  Also in the Red Cross backpack is a flashlight that can also charge a cell phone, a first aid kit and gloves.

    “This has been wonderful,” said Ellett standing next to her daughter.  “Yesterday we were able to get a sifter, trash bags and snacks at the Red Cross station down the street. Thank you so much.”

    Wildfires across Texas have destroyed more than 1,500 homes and left many wondering where they’ll go from here.  That’s why more than 340 volunteers and staff with the American Red Cross have spread across the Lone Star State handing out comfort kits, feeding affected families and supporting overnight shelters.

    In addition to providing counseling to those who have been affected by the fires, Red Cross volunteers have teamed up with the Southern Baptist Convention to serve more than 6,000 meals in Bastrop County alone.  

    Ellett says this is home and she plans to rebuild on her land here in the Paige community.

    “I have my family. We’re strong.  We’ll be fine”, she said.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Join Lindsey and Avery, Make a Difference for Your Community

    Lindsey and Avery Colgin (ages 8 and 10) are a great example this week of how we can all do our part for families affected by disaster. Lindsey and Avery wanted to do something for all the families recovering from the recent wildfires, so they held a lemonade stand to raise money. Their mom suggested that they also accept donations as well, and Lindsey and Avery ended up raising over $100 for American Red Cross disaster relief!

    Here's a photo of Avery and Lindsey at work raising money for families in need:

    And here they are donating $122 for disaster relief at the American Red Cross of Central Texas:

    Great work Avery and Lindsey! We hope that you'll get involved in your community just like they did by volunteering or donating today.