Local Red Cross Encourages Public to Send Holiday Greetings to America’s Heroes

“Holiday Mail for Heroes” Mailbox Open Through December 7

While military deployments and hospital stays may keep many of our nation’s heroes away from their families this holiday season, the American Red Cross is collecting and distributing cards that send words of encouragement, gratitude and cheer.

Between now and December 7, Americans can give something that means something by sending a card of thanks and support to members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

“Holiday Mail for Heroes is an excellent way for America to remain connected with service members deployed overseas under combat conditions.  Simple and nice, these cards convey the message that we still care about the sacrifices our service men and women make on a daily basis. This program is more important now than ever before,” stated Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Roy Krueger, who is also a Red Cross Services to Armed Forces volunteer.

We encourage you to make this a family activity, a school project or a civic group event, or participate in one of your areas card making events such as the Sunday, November’ 4th Packer’s Game and the Packer’s Holiday Blood drive on Wednesday, November 14, from 7a.m – 7 p.m. in the Lambeau Field Legends Room.

The Red Cross is inviting the public to send messages of thanks and holiday cheer until December 7 by mailing them to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes

P.O. Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Pitney Bowes Inc. receives cards at the special Holiday Mail post office box, and screens them for hazardous materials. Pitney Bowes screens, packages and ships the cards at no charge, and contributes thousands of volunteer hours at sites around the country. The local Pitney Bowes office in Neenah will also accept cards through November 30th.

A new drop-off location this year is at National Exchange Bank locations where they will collect the cards up-to the first week of December and ship them to the P.O. Box.

This is the third year Miles Kimball’s, based in Oshkosh, has supported the program with a donation of 10,000 printed cards! Cards will be available at community events for signing.

Red Cross volunteers across the United States and on military installations overseas then sort and deliver the cards throughout the holiday season. The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have received and distributed more than 4.7 million cards for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and their families since the program began in 2006. Locally, the goal is collect at least 20,000 cards and distribute 10,000 cards to local Veteran clinics and hospitals and through Veteran groups. The Red Cross will schedule volunteers to assist in the sorting and delivery of cards.

To ensure that cards are delivered in time for the holidays, they must be postmarked no later than December 7. Individuals are asked to refrain from sending “care packages,” monetary donations, or using glitter or any other kinds of inserts with the cards. More information and card requirements are at redcross.org/holidaymail..

The public can connect with fellow card senders through Facebook at facebook.com/redcross and Twitter.com/redcross using the hashtag #holidaymail.

The Red Cross relies on the support of the American people to carry out its mission of service to the 2 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 24 million veterans and their families. During this holiday season, people also can support all Red Cross services by making a financial donation at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. Individuals can also give the gift of life by making an appointment to give blood at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

About our Holiday Partners

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for the support of our corporate partners that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include:  University of Phoenix, Circle K West Coast Division, and the Community Safety Foundation, funded by AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange. Thanks to the generosity of these and other sponsors, the Red Cross is able to carry out its mission of helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies everyday here and around the world. Each holiday season the Red Cross gives everyone the chance to support our work by giving blood, signing a card for military heroes or buying a gift through our holiday catalog. To support the Red Cross this Holiday Season, visit www.redcross.org/holiday


Support the Green Bay Packers and patients in need of lifesaving blood this November

American Red Cross hosts 12-hour blood drive at Lambeau Field

The American Red Cross invites football fans to give something that means something by donating blood at the Green Bay Packers blood drive on Nov. 14.  While the need for blood is ongoing, the supply isn’t — especially around the holidays. In the spirit of the season, give thanks and give hope to someone in need by donating blood at Lambeau Field.

Green Bay Packers Blood   Drive

Wednesday, November 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lambeau Field – Legends Club Room

1265   Lombardi Ave., Green Bay, Wis.

“In August, nearly 400 Packers fans helped boost the blood supply prior to the Labor Day holiday weekend. The Red Cross returns to Lambeau Field just before Thanksgiving, and we invite community members to lend an arm to support patients in Wisconsin and across the country,” said Michelle Otero, Red Cross Donor Recruitment Supervisor. “The Red Cross is grateful to have the opportunity to partner with the Green Bay Packers and their lifesaving supporters.”

All presenting donors at the Green Bay Packers blood drive will receive a special giveaway item (while supplies last) and can enter a raffle to win official Packers merchandise. All blood types are currently needed while donors with type O negative, A negative or B negative blood are especially encouraged to give. The Red Cross hopes to collect at least 350 pints of blood throughout the day.

Those attending the blood drive will also have an opportunity to send a holiday message to a service member. Preprinted cards will be available to sign as part of the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Holiday Mail for Heroes gives Americans the opportunity to send holiday greetings to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world. To learn more about the program, visit redcross.org

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Wisconsin Disaster Training Conference To Begin Largest Registration Ever Includes Five States Represented

American Red Cross chapters serving all of Wisconsin, plus the Michigan border communities are just days away from the Wisconsin Disaster Training Conference to be held at the Gruenhagen Conference Center on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Campus from October 18-21, 2012.

More than 200 have registered for entry-level to high-level training with courses taught-by, and open-to, community partners as well as newcomers and long-time Red Cross responders. 

Specific training tracks are scheduled so a person can grow within their chosen line of service. Training tracks include: health services, mental health, sheltering, operations management, feeding and disaster communications. Therefore, a person with professional skills, such as a licensed mental health professional, can learn the Red Cross guidance to make their disaster deployment the most beneficial for the people we serve. In other capacities, we are looking for volunteers with a strong will to help others, are compassionate and are ready for training.

All courses will have a strong emphasis on collaborative efforts before, during and after disasters. For instance, fostering working relationships with other first responders, community leaders and mutual aid assets are vital to a successful response. While we have the trained team to establish a shelter, we need the location, which is where our community partners and advanced planning comes into play.

All courses are free to disaster responders, just like the services we provide during times of need. In fact, the Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters a year – more than 1,100 in Wisconsin last year. Course participants will be asked to respond to local disasters first and then as skills and availability rise, they maybe deployed to larger or national assignments. For example, during Hurricane Isaac, several Emergency Response Vehicles from Wisconsin were driven to the Gulf Coast. During the ERV Ready, Set, Roll course, we will certify additional drivers. Due to over-whelming registrations for the International Humanitarian Law course, we’ve added a class on Wednesday, October 17th. This class explores guiding principles from the Geneva Conventions which sets forth Red Cross involvement around the globe.

For the complete list of classes please visit redcross.org/newisconsin or redcross.org/sewisconsin.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization which depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Betina and Donald Driver to Support American Red Cross in “Dancing” Fundraiser

Matching mirror ball trophies could soon be on display at the Driver house if Betina Driver is the top fundraiser at Dancing with our Stars 2013 for the American Red Cross. The wife of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver is one of 9 local “celebrities” set to compete in the event, which supports local Red Cross efforts.

“We’re thrilled both Betina and Donald Driver will be part of Dancing with our Stars 2013,” said Steve Hansen, Regional Chapter Executive for the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin. “I believe they will not only bring a high level of energy, enthusiasm and passion to the dance floor but also to raising funds on behalf of the Red Cross.”

Mrs. Driver has plenty to live up to when it comes to dancing after her husband took home the mirror ball trophy earlier this year on the 14th season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Those dance moves will again be on display as Donald Driver will serve as Betina’s dance partner at the event.

The Red Cross will host a kickoff party Thursday, October 25th at 7 p.m. to unveil the complete 2013 “star dancer” lineup. It includes top executives, small business owners and members of the media. The invitation-only event will take place on the Club Level of the Lambeau Field Atrium.

Dancing with our Stars is now in its fifth year and it is has been a sold-out event each year. Not only do those in attendance support local efforts, so can those not attending as the “star dancers” receive votes in the form of donations to the Red Cross. One dollar equals one vote. All funds raised support disaster prevention, preparation and relief, the life-saving training of first aid, CPR/AED classes, collection and testing of blood and blood products, support to military members serving around the globe, the transportation program and international programs.

Dancing with our Stars 2013 will take place Saturday, February 23rd at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Green Bay. Information about tickets will be available in January. More event information can be found on the following Red Cross platforms:

Website: redcross.org/newisconsin

Dancing with our Stars blog: redcrossdwosblog.org

Facebook: facebook.com/NEWRedCross

Twitter: @NEWRedCross (#dwos to join the conversation!)

The Green Bay Packers, the Oneida Nation, Festival Foods, Schneider National, WBAY-TV, WIXX and the Green Bay Press-Gazette are proud sponsors of the event.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Volunteer Connections – Coming soon!

Local volunteers play key role in national Red Cross disaster responses

Written by: Andy Thompson l News-Record Editor

Harvey Lorenz (right), Neenah, and Dennis Caillouet, North Carolina, learn how to use a handheld device for damage assessment in the area that was affected by Hurricane Isaac in Port Allen, La. Lorenz has been deployed to 10 Red Cross disaster relief missions. / Barbara Behling/submitted

When the American Red Cross put out a call for assistance in the wake of Hurricane Isaac in late August, Neenah’s Harvey Lorenz was quick to respond.

The 72-year-old Lorenz, a veteran Red Cross volunteer whose first deployment was in response to Hurricane Katrina, quickly packed a suitcase, boarded a flight and headed for the Gulf Coast.

“You get the word and within 24 hours you’re on the ground,” said Lorenz, a retired banker who has been on 10 Red Cross disaster relief missions.

Lorenz spent 16 days assisting hurricane victims in Louisiana. He flew into Houson on Aug. 30 and stayed in a shelter in Orange, Tex., because power was out at the Baton Rouge, La., airport. The next day, he traveled to Baton Rouge and stayed in a shelter for several days while assisting hurricane victims, most of whom were trying to cope with the flooding caused by massive rains.

The hurricane made landfall on Aug. 28 and caused significant flooding in coastal areas of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Lorenz was among 15 Red Cross disaster workers from northeast Wisconsin who were sent to the Gulf Coast to provide aid for victims of Hurricane Isaac. Barbara Pilon of Neenah served on a team coordinating the distribution of clean-up gear.

A considerable amount of Lorenz’ time was spent in Laplace, La., located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Not only did he assist with compiling hurricane-related financial estimates during his stretch in Louisiana, he assisted in damage assessment work and got involved in teaching other volunteers how to respond to the needs of storm victims.

When he was in Laplace, which had six to nine feet of water running through it because of the slow-moving storm, President Obama visited the community.

The work is often painstaking and the deployments are for indefinite periods of time, but Lorenz gets a great deal of satisfaction from assisting victims of disasters.

“It’s part of the recovery process,” he said. “I enjoy helping others. I’m not big on recognition, but what you do is really neat and a lot of people appreciate it. Down there (in the Gulf Coast), people have been through this so often. They are very resourceful.”

Barbara Behling, communications officer for the American Red Cross in Northeast Wisconsin, has high praise for Lorenz’ work on behalf of the Red Cross.

“Harvey tells it like it is,” said Behling, who spent two weeks in Louisiana assisting with the disaster response effort. “Harvey comes with a great sense of maturity. He’s not going to be shifted off course. He knows the mission and he knows what it takes to get it done.”

Behling said Lorenz does an outstanding job of keeping accurate financial records and data.

“He’s a finance guy by trade, but he understands the human side,” she said. “He has such a huge heart and he can really relate to people who have been affected (by disasters).”

Behling served as a public affairs chief during her deployment and focused on lining up the services that were vitally important to hurricane victims. She was based in Port Allen, which is close to Baton Rouge, but also spent some time in Madisonville, which was pounded by 16½ inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

She said houses were “wiped-off” their foundations by the torrential rains and water was “up to their eyeballs” for some residents.

“It was horrible,” Behling said.

Behling was impressed with the response to the hurricane by local, regional and national volunteers.

“You always see the best of humanity after a disaster,” she said.

— Andy Thompson: 920-729-6622, ext. 29, or athompson@newsrecord .net

American Red Cross Fire Safety Tips Help to Save Lives

Install Smoke Alarms and Create a Fire Escape Plan

This October 7-13 the American Red Cross is helping families and businesses learn how to protect themselves and others from fires in observance of National Fire Prevention Week. Last year, the Red Cross responded to about 63,000 home fires across the country by providing comfort and basic necessities to more than 82,000 families.

“We respond to about one home fire every nine minutes across the country. The best thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to install a smoke alarm and  develop and practice a fire escape plan,” said Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive,“Fires can spread very quickly, so everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm.”

 Additional recommendations include:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Ensure that household members know two ways to escape from every room and designate a place to meet outside of your house in case of a fire. Practice your plan at least twice a year.
  • Follow your escape plan in case of fire. Get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • Download the American Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android.

Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips. 

Business, too, should be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. According to the United State Fire Association, non-residential building fires resulted in $2.4 billion in losses in 2010. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program at www.readyrating.org. Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.

In addition to helping families and businesses prepare their homes and facilities for potential fires, the Red Cross is there to help those in need when fires break out. Locally, we are responded to fires every single day throughout our region! In each instance, we work with the family to provide a shoulder to lean-on, help them plan a recovery plan and provide immediate basic needs such as providing a safe place to sleep, food to eat, infant supplies, replace medications, etc.

Throughout October, we are collaborating on several local projects including delivering fire prevention door hangers in Campbellsport, Oakfield and North Fond du Lac on October 27th. This is conjunction with the fire departments and the Gannett newspaper Make a Difference Day project. We will also be at the Fox Valley Technical College Convoy of Hope on October 6th from 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. and the Kimberly Clark Employee Safety Fair on October 18th. More events are also in planning stages.

“In order to continue responding to disasters like fires at homes and businesses here in throughout the greater Fox Valley and Michigan border communities, the Red Cross depends on the generous support of individuals and businesses in the community,” added Hansen. “To support our on-going prevention and responses, we ask people to make a financial gift to the Red Cross. We make it easy as you can call 800-RED-CROSS, go to redcross.org or text redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

My Hurricane Isaac deployment…

My name is Barbara Behling, the Chapter’s Communications Officer and I recently returned from my Hurricane Isaac deployment. On August 28, 2012 Isaac caused great damage and destruction: he also re-energized and mobilized communities.

With much anticipation, Isaac garnered strength while sitting in the Gulf Coast deciding if he would hit Tampa during the Republican National Convention or shift west and hit New Orleans, ironically on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Both presented logistical and emotional challenges. The story you may not have heard is that a few hours north of Louisiana, small inland towns such as Madisonville, Slidell and Baton Rouge were inundated with rain; up-to 16.5 inches fell in the same area in under 24-hours. For these small towns, this was much worse than Hurricane Katrina!

I learned of one lady whose house was filling fast with rain water. Afraid she and the children would drown inside, she perched her two children to her hips, their arms tightly around her neck. She started wading through the main street of town. Unbeknown to her, the man-hole covers blew-off due to the force of water. Within an instant, three lives were lost.

The forceful winds, torrential rain, flash flooding and threatening tornadoes were what Mother Nature handed us. What we gave back was just as powerful. The Red Cross mobilized 4,800 trained responders, each with a specific goal to help people. Each armed with skills, training and more compassion than you can ever know, we put our talents to work. We opened nearly 100 shelters, each a respite for those tired, hungry and emotionally drained. We partnered with groups such as the Southern Baptists, while they can cook from scratch hundreds of thousands of meals a day, they don’t have deliver vehicles. We do. In fact five Emergency Response Vehicles around Wisconsin were active in community feeding and outreach activities. Yes, our local volunteers drove our custom made vehicles, each with Wisconsin license plates to Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. From each, our teams loaded, hauled and distributed meals at local community centers, shelters, schools, churches and throughout neighborhoods. You see when the Red Cross vehicle is coming down your street, you not only receive a hot meal, cold water and snacks, you are met with a Midwest smile. As one driver stated, “sometimes it’s not just about serving the food, you just have to stop and give them a hug too.”

Damage assessment worker marking the damage to this Louisiana home.

As our damage assessment, health services, emotional health professionals and folks like myself travel down impacted roads we meet people like George Moore, whose home was severely damaged. With the dignity and pride of serving his country, he adjusted his military hat and jacket and went to work cleaning-up. “I have survived everything, hurricanes, typhoons and serving in the military during WWII. Red Cross was there for me in 1945 and they are here for me today.”  With George’s physical challenges, it was if he mustered the strength to stand at attention when neighbors and people he never knew walked into his yard and began picking up the pieces. While we handed each ‘George’ we met free cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items, our gift is so much larger. It’s the people who stand behind us to make this happen. Whether you are deployed, supporting our Chapters at home or making an in-kind or financial gift, you were there too.

Each time I’m deployed, certain names and moments are forever engrained in my memory. I first talked with Tammy Morris, from the Madisonville, LA church. She called and asked if I could drive down to support their community outreach day.  When I said, “sure” I could hear her strong voice drop to a cracking, soft-spoken “the Red Cross is always here for us.”  I left my lodging before 6:00a.m on a Saturday. When our eyes met, we instantly hugged. She shared with my team the plan for the day. Nearly 40 community groups were gathering at the church and at the ball field by 9:00a.m.  Each group would be assigned jobs to help their community recover. Right on time, and if on cue, three American Red Cross box trucks arrived. Two hauled pre-packaged clean-up kits and water neatly stacked on pallets, one had bulk items such as shovels, racks, gloves, coolers, and more. Then as if on cue again, the doors flew open and dozens of kids in matching shirts formed an assembly line to unload the trucks. Another team stacked the materials in the church. As the disaster victims, arrived at the church, they were greeted with yet another team that carried the materials to their cars. In some cases, groups followed the resident home and began the process of bailing out water, ripping-out carpet, tearing down drywall and more.

Still back at the church, another team was serving hot meals, delivered by a fourth Red Cross vehicle. Each person was given a hot meal, water, sports drinks and snacks. People also stopped at this point, to sit, to share their story with our trained personnel. You see, part of the healing process is sharing your story. We had licensed mental health professionals ready to listen. We had nurses administering first aid to those with small injuries so it wouldn’t be a larger problem later. We also started ‘client case work’ which is a way to help the resident identify their next steps, determine if they have the resources to recovery, we listened and guided them into recovery.

So I could have a lasting reminder of Tammy, Madisonville and Isaac, I asked if Tammy would record a short message. She obliged. I’ll cherish her kindness, her ability to rally a community, and her sweet hug.

To view additional pictures from Hurricane Isaac click HERE.