Red Cross Helping 76 People After Holiday Week Home Fires

Trained American Red Cross responders are spending their holiday week comforting 76 neighbors in need following 21 fires across Wisconsin since December 24th.

Responses include seven in 24-hours including Green Bay, Markesan, Wausaukee and four in Milwaukee. Red Cross responders will meet with each family to discuss emergency needs such as a food, shelter, clothing, health needs and emotional support along with a recovery plan. Since Christmas eve, local workers, led by a team of dedicated volunteers, are also helping families in Racine, Marshfield, Black River Falls, Suamico, Oshkosh, Pine River, Frederic, Appleton, West Allis, Adams, Kewaunee and Irma.

The number of home fires increases during cold, winter months. To prevent fires, the Red Cross recommends following home fire safety tips. Fire safety tips, as well as numerous other resources, are also available on the free Red Cross First Aid App.


To become a Red Cross volunteer in your community, visit People can help those affected by fire and other disasters by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Financial gifts enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit to make a secure online donation or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Follow us on our new statewide twitter account for updates! @redcrosswis


Home Fires Become Top Disaster Threat

Home fires top list of disaster responses throughout Wisconsin

Card Style


This year, the Red Cross helped more people affected by home fires than all other disasters combined. Locally trained workers responded at all hours of the day with food, blankets and comfort to help more than 3,451 people with nowhere else to turn after home fires from January 1 to December 1, 2014.

During that same timeframe, the Red Cross also provided financial support to 1,064 households after home fires to help replace lost belongings and begin the long road to recovery. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the community every 8 minutes and the vast majority of these are home fires.

Within December alone, we have already responded to nearly 50 additional fires as this is our busiest month of the year including several large apartment building fires in Milwaukee.

“While tornadoes, floods and hurricanes tend to dominate the headlines, people often underestimate the frequency and devastation caused by home fires, and that’s where the Red Cross comes in,” said Marytha Blanchard, the states Disaster Officer. “Our work doesn’t end after the smoke clears, every day local volunteers are helping people to recover and get better prepared.”

Curbing Deaths and Injuries from Home Fires

Because of the high number of home fires in this country, the Red Cross launched a campaign this year to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. The organization is asking every household in America to take two simple steps: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

Since the campaign launched in October, the Red Cross—in partnership with fire departments and community groups nationwide—has already reached more than 29,000 people by installing 17,000 smoke alarms. These efforts have already saved five lives nationwide. In the Wisconsin Region, we’ve already reached 599 people by installing 342 smoke alarms in Beloit, Chippewa Falls, Kaukauna, Stevens Point and Milwaukee. Based on 5-year historical data, additional neighborhoods are being coordinated for 2015 outreach.

Other Notable Disaster Responses

Within the state, we have responded to numerous other disasters this year, including the Platteville and Verona tornadoes, flooding and even power outages. In addition, our trained responders have also traveled across the country to assist in the California & Texas wildfires, Buffalo blizzard, Oso mudslide, Pilger tornadoes and longer-term casework for the Illinois tornado/flood.

Our work is made possible by the generosity of the American public. You can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables us to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. You can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.


Why I Help: John Meinke, Madison, Wisconsin

By Andrea Coan, Red Cross Volunteer Journalist

1418832675579 John M - MadisonA talented new addition to our American Red Cross volunteer corps, John Meinke works on media and communications efforts with the Red Cross of Badger Chapter, as well as the South Central Wisconsin Region. Here, he makes his own unique contribution to the organization.

Meinke photographs volunteers and employees at blood drives, programs supporting the Armed Forces, disaster training events, and so much more. Awed by each person who gives back, Meinke feels lucky to have an opportunity to capture the strong individuals who work for the Red Cross.

“When I see Red Cross teams in action, I feel proud to be a part of something much larger than any individual involved,” said Meinke. “I know that my assignments, which are very important to me, are just a small part of what happens every day in the Red Cross.”

After retiring from a career in visual arts education, which included darkroom and digital photography, Meinke made the choice to join the Red Cross in 2013. He was determined to stay active and engaged in meaningful endeavors during his retirement, and felt volunteerism would be the ideal way to achieve this personal goal.

When he isn’t behind the camera, Meinke works on the Red Cross photo archive where he preserves the value and quality of photos representing the history of the organization. He works closely with Katie Gaynor, external communications manager of Red Cross Blood Services.

Meinke will never forget an encounter with a family at a blood drive in Portage, Wisconsin where he met two parents who took turns donating blood, while holding their newborn son. They wanted their young son to experience the “giving spirit” as soon as possible. Meinke felt a deep respect for this family, which put the value of giving at the center of their lives.

In his short time with the Red Cross, Meinke has already photographed some powerful images.

“In my work, I help others become aware of and understand the services provided by the Red Cross, but those who build and share shelter, nourishment, comfort or life-saving blood are true heroes,” said Meinke.



By Vicki Jenks, Red Cross Disaster Team Member and American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin Board Member

Shown left to right:  Laine Lazers, President, Farmers State Bank; Vicki P. Jenks, American Red Cross Board Member;  and Jay Krcmar, Vice President, Farmers State Bank.

Shown left to right: Laine Lazers, President, Farmers State Bank; Vicki P. Jenks, American Red Cross Board Member; and Jay Krcmar, Vice President, Farmers State Bank.

For eight consecutive years, Farmers State Bank, Waupaca & Wild Rose branches, has generously supported HEROES, a community collaboration benefitting the local work of the American Red Cross.  This year’s generous $1,000 gift will be utilized for Local Disaster Relief.

The most prevalent local disasters are RESIDENTIAL FIRES—winter being the busiest, worst time of the year.  When the Red Cross is called in for support, trained volunteers provide immediate needs ranging from personal hygiene items, a place to stay, financial assistance, medications, quilts, stuffed toys, and a shoulder to lean on.  The Red Cross also supports first responders with food and hydration.  The AMERICAN RED CROSS—90% volunteers—arrives with hearts filled with compassion and a plan to support families in a very emotional, difficult time.

 “Down the street, across the country, around the world…the Red Cross is there.   Special thanks to Farmers State Bank for their steadfast belief in the world’s greatest humanitarian organization.

 HEROES 2015 Musicales are set for Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 16th.   For tickets and silent auction donor information,  call Vicki P. Jenks, Red Cross board member,  at (920) 622-3152.    

Heroes 2015RedCrossPoster




Red Cross Campaign To Reduce Home Fire Deaths and Injuries Begins in Kaukauna

Efforts will include installing smoke alarms and urging people to practice fire escape plans

10710893_10152718411990071_1668250310886687572_nRecently, the American Red Cross announced a new campaign throughout Wisconsin and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. Two days in December, teams will visit 500 homes in Kaukauna to install smoke alarms and provide fire safety tips and review escape plans with residents.

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross campaign focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and encouraging everyone to practice their fire escape plans.

The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.

The door-to-door outreach team includes Red Cross volunteers & staff, the Kaukauna Fire Department, Volunteer Center of East Central WI, Outagamie County CERT and Team Rubicon.  

  • Sunday, December 7th 9:00am – Canvas targeted neighborhood with door hangers in advance so residents know we are returning the following Saturday with smoke alarms and information.
  • Saturday, December 13th 8:30am-12:00pm – Smoke Detector Installation

On both dates, we will meet at the Kaukauna Fire Department on 206 W. 3rd Street. We will create teams, distribute supplies and then go door-to-door.

Teams will be partnered with local fire departments to install smoke alarms in homes that need them and teach people about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home because working smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half.

Simple Steps to Save Lives

Even as the Red Cross and other groups install smoke alarms in some neighborhoods, they are calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home,

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

  • If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
  • If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

fire stat 3

New Poll Shows Many People Have False Sense of Security about Fire Safety

The Red Cross fire preparedness campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape. Nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they have ten minutes or more.

When asked about their confidence levels in actually escaping a burning home, roughly four in 10 of those polled (42 percent) believed they could get out in two minutes.

While 69 percent of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help, the survey found that many families had not taken necessary steps to support that level of confidence.

  • Less than one in five of families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) report that they’ve actually practiced home fire drills.
  • Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.
  • Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. Throughout Wisconsin, the Red Cross responded to more than 900 residential fires last year. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.





On Tuesday, December 2, a national day of giving – #GivingTuesday – will kick off the holiday season.  In the same way that retail stores take part in Black Friday, #GivingTuesday celebrates and encourages businesses, individuals and families to support charitable activities.

At the American Red Cross, we will celebrate #GivingTuesday within the umbrella of our annual Holiday Campaign.  Now in its sixth year, our campaign taps people’s desire to Give Something that Means Something, inspiring acts of goodness and emphasizing that the holidays are about giving back.

By partnering with the Red Cross on #GivingTuesday and beyond, you can help make the holidays more meaningful. 

Click HERE to see how you can make a difference!



Survey Shows Social Media Users are Giving to Charity – and Sharing the News

New American Red Cross Poll Released at the Start of the Holiday Giving Season

A new survey by the American Red Cross found that seven in 10 social users are giving to charity—online and offline—and many are sharing about their donation on social media.

114706 Holiday Poll Infographic FINAL 300 dpiThe survey findings on charity giving by social media users come just before the holiday giving season, an important time for many nonprofits. The Red Cross is kicking off its annual holiday campaign that urges people to make financial donations or give blood during the holiday season.

These new survey results show yet another way that social activity is impacting nonprofits and their work.

The Red Cross survey found that 71 percent of those active on social networks donated to a charity in the past 12 months. Of those, six in 10 have donated online, revealing that not only the generosity of social media users, but also highlighting how online channels can spur charitable giving.

One notable finding from the survey is that personal appeals from friends matter more than trending topics and gimmicks important key to motivating social media users to donate to charity.

The national online survey of 1,021 adults conducted October 16-19 found that in the online space, a personal connection is particularly important when deciding to give to charity. The majority (70 percent) of social media users would take some kind of action in response to a friend posting a story on social media about making a charitable donation.

Moreover, while only three percent of respondents said social media was the most effective way for the charity itself to request a donation, the number jumped to 19 percent when asked if they would likely donate money to a charity if they saw a friend post about a recent donation.

Social Users are in it to Give, Not Receive

While trends online and in the media can draw new attention to a charity, 72 percent said a charity’s popularity in the media or trending status on Twitter made no difference in their decision to donate.

And the survey found that users are interested in giving, not receiving, as 51 percent said that receiving something like a memento, ornament or piece of clothing in exchange for  a charitable donation would  not increase their likelihood to give.

Other Key Findings

While not at the levels of awareness of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping days, Giving Tuesday is on the minds of more than two in five social users (41 percent) who are aware of the charitable day of giving, which is December 2 this year. And nearly half (47 percent) of those aware of Giving Tuesday said they planned to participate this year.

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,021 U.S. adults (508 men and 513 women) 18 years and older on October 16-19, 2014 conducted in ORC International’s CARAVAN®  survey. The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults.