The American Red Cross Sees a Need of the Military and Fills It

Within the last couple of years it was recognized that there was a need for reliable childcare during military briefings and meetings, so the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter stepped up to fill that need. Recently the Red Cross and 54 volunteers provided the largest childcare event to support military families.

Since its founding the Red Cross has offered support to the military and their families. Whether it be communications or emergency services, the military has found it can count on the Red Cross.  

Before military units are deployed they have briefings and the Red Cross is included in these briefings to explain the programs and services the Red Cross offers through its armed services programs.  

Judy Gregory, Emergency Services Director at the American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter, says that during those meetings it was obvious there was a need for childcare so parents could listen to the information instead of having to care for their children.

Turnout has proven to be higher when reliable childcare is offered. “The Red Cross has been a huge asset to our families,” says Staff Sergeant Amy Lauder, Family Readiness Group Liaison. “Many of them have young children and would be unable to go to the valuable briefings and social activities if they did not have childcare available.”

Lauder says, “Red Cross childcare had reliable, dedicated and trained staff to keep our families at ease about the care of their children.”

“I was honored that parents who didn’t know us trusted us with their children because we were the Red Cross,” says Gregory. I feel that it is quite a statement of their trust in the Red Cross and our volunteers. ”

“Judy and the disaster team volunteers have been available, even with short notice, to help us out.  Our families feel very comfortable with them and we have never had any complaints,” says Lauder.

The Red Cross brings supplies to care for the children and activities to keep them busy including games, toys, and baby equipment.

Over Mother’s Day weekend the 432nd Battalion out of Green Bay had a family weekend to support families because of the hard impact of the amount of deployments. The weekend was filled with fun but also serious topics as speakers covered subjects such as financial management, suicide prevention and keeping a marriage together.

The 54 volunteers moved into the Tundra Lodge early Friday morning to provide childcare until late afternoon and came back on Saturday morning and stayed until 10:30 pm.

While parents listened to speakers their was a wide range of activities for the children including a visit from the fire department with a fire truck, making mother’s day gifts and a pajama party with pizza and movies. There were always at least 30 children and at times up to 50.

“It was a wonderful weekend. It was a lot of hard work but it did what it was supposed to do, give parents some time together to listen to these speakers and hopefully strengthen families,” says Gregory.