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Wednesday, 03 September 2014 18:19

A New Home for the American Red Cross at Arkansas State University

Written by  Kelsey Bean & Hannah Raines

The Red Cross: One of the most recognized symbols in the entire world. The American Red Cross is a bright light in the midst of all types of darkness when disaster strikes. Americans are fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of such an incredible organization.

The American Red Cross, founded by Clara Barton, took form in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881. She had seen what a difference the Swiss Red Cross was making while on a visit there, and she campaigned heavily for the American Red Cross to be ratified at the Geneva Convention after returning home. Following ratification in 1882, Barton and her group of Red Cross members worked hard to protect injured war veterans, respond to disasters, foreign and domestic, and promote peace.

Despite the fact that The American Red Cross does not receive any government funding, there is a congressional charter that mandates their existence. The first mandate occurred in 1900, again in 1905, and the most recent version of the charter was made in 2007. The charter states that the American Red Cross must exist in order to provide planning and relief in times of disaster and serve to communicate between American armed forces and their families.

The American Red Cross is well known for starting first aid, water safety, and public health nursing programs. These programs were critically needed before and throughout the First World War, and brought welcomed growth to the organization. Nursing became an important element to the Red Cross during the Second World War, where 104,000 nurses were accepted to help serve the military. The Second World War also created the need for the Red Cross to start its national blood program, which continues to thrive today. Because of the military’s need for blood, the Red Cross could see that blood donations could be a sufficient way to meet the needs of civilians who are injured. This sparked the civilian national blood program, which now supplies more than forty percent of the blood and blood products in the United States.

It is clear that the American Red Cross has a very rich history. Its long-standing tradition would not have been possible all these years though without its many volunteers. The people who choose to give their time to the American Red Cross could be thought of as its backbone. Without them, victims of disasters would not receive the care and help they need. For this reason, it is imperative that people continue to volunteer for the Red Cross.

The American Red Cross has chapters all over the United States to respond to disasters. Recently, college students have become interested in being part of the disaster response as well. To help bridge the gap between local and regional chapter members and the college population, some universities have started their own Red Cross Club. This is the case at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The North East Arkansas Chapter is very active and well organized, but they still need help with their efforts. The A-State Red Cross Club now will be able to fill those holes. Presently, two American Red Cross Clubs exist among colleges in the state of Arkansas. These two clubs are located in Russellville, Arkansas, at Arkansas Tech University and in Jonesboro, Arkansas, at Arkansas State University as stated before. Having Red Cross Clubs at these two universities fosters great promise for more and more volunteerism for the American Red Cross every year. Having Red Cross Clubs gets younger people involved who can spread the word to others to help give some of their time to those in need. Helping to establish a Red Cross Club at as many universities as possible would be a great advantage to the American Red Cross.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross recently reached out to Arkansas State University to become more involved with the organization. Dr. Brad Holloway agreed to take on the challenge and created The Arkansas State University American Red Cross Club. Word about the club spread throughout the University and on February 3, 2014, the first meeting was held that outlined the needs regarding the organizational structure and discussed training requirements of the American Red Cross. The process to elect officers was discussed and interested students were introduced to the supervisor of the local Red Cross Chapter.

In a follow-up meeting on Feb. 18, 2014, officers were installed and introduced to the group. The club adopted a Constitution that included a purpose and mission statement, duties of the officers, and the bylaws of the club.

A three hour training course was offered on March 11, 2014. This course titled, Basic Disaster Overview provided the members with the initial training needed to become a registered Red Cross volunteer. This course went over what the Red Cross does during events such as a house fire and also went over the areas of where volunteers can work if asked to help.

There are several of opportunities to volunteer. The Jonesboro chapter of the American Red Cross personally asked the club to help by calling people who received services. The annual Bucket Brigade is the largest fundraiser for the Red Cross and gave club members a chance to volunteer on April 5, 2014. People set up at intersections and at stores to raise money so the American Red Cross can continue to help the people in need. The club got the experience a call-in conference call with the local chapters of the Red Cross during a meeting on April 8, 2014. The club was invited to help participate in a state-wide project held by the Red Cross called the Pillowcase project. The goal is to reach 3,000 fourth through fifth grade students by May of 2015. The objective is to educate these students on disaster preparedness safety and give the students a pillowcase that they can prepare for themselves in the event of a disaster. The pillowcase has a list of items that the children can put in the pillowcase such as a change of clothes, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, favorite toy, etc. They can then put it behind their bedroom door to have ready to go if needed. The pillowcase acts as a disaster kit for children. At the meeting, the club also made the decision to set up a training course together in Client Case Work so the club can do more activities together and maybe work a disaster event together if the time came. On April 11, 2014, the club members had the opportunity to volunteer as victims for a mock disaster drill conducted by the Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management at Arkansas State University.

With the recent storms that have hit central Arkansas, Vilonia and Mayflower, the Red Cross Club saw the opportunity to let everyone know how committed the club is about being involved. On May 1, 2014, Red Cross Club members made the journey to central Arkansas to volunteer and help the tornado victims. It was an amazing opportunity for everyone because most of the members have never done any volunteer work with the Red Cross and was able to experience what exactly the Red Cross does and how it impacts so many peoples’ lives in so many ways. Working with the Arkansas State University Red Cross Club has been an amazing experience the spring semester of 2014. Even though the club was in the beginning phases, it was a great opportunity to help get the club started and running. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it. In the event of disaster, it can be overwhelming, yet very rewarding to know how much the people helped appreciate all the volunteers assisting them in trying to ease their pain and suffering. Becoming a member of the Arkansas State University Red Cross Club has given its members the chance to be part of something they can feel good about. Taking the training courses gives such a rewarding feeling by simply knowing you are prepared to help someone in maybe their most tragic time of their life. Getting to know the other people in the college community who are passionate for helping others has also been a great experience. A caring group of volunteers has been formed on the campus of Arkansas State University that will be carried on for years to come.

HaRaines-Hannahnnah Raines will be an Arkansas State University graduate in May of 2015 with a bachelor of science in nursing with a minor in disaster preparedness and emergency management. She is excited to be part of a lasting mark at A-state by being one of the first starting members of the club.

 

 

Bean-KelseyKelsey Bean is an expected 2015 bachelor of science in nursing graduate at Arkansas State University. She is very involved at her university and welcomed the opportunity to make the American Red Cross a part of her life forever.