A Safer Way to Get that Candle Glow

By Jody Weyers, Communications Volunteer


The weekend after Thanksgiving I was so excited to get out all my holiday decorations and go to town decorating in a new space. I moved into a new duplex seven months ago and this was my first Christmas in my new place. What makes a place feel cozy and warm during the holidays –candles and lots of them.

I have been with the American Red Cross for almost 15 years, so I know candles are dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-fifth of home decoration fires occur in December, and over half of these are started by candles.

This year, I transitioned to the battery operated candles. I know you are thinking, it is not the same…. But yes, it really is. Battery operated tea-lights are all over my house and you cannot tell the difference from a real candle. They are available in all sizes, shapes and colors. I went to Michael’s Craft Store and was floored by all the different varieties available. I know they don’t give off any scent, and part of the holidays I love is the smells of cinnamon, pine and vanilla so I also invested in an aromatherapy room mist in all my favorite scents and for when I have guests.

IMG_20151128_172634At first you might think they are expensive, but when you look at the cost of your house burning down or investing in battery operated candles, that price tag soon becomes a non-factor. They also provide peace of mind.  If I go to bed or leave my house with one of these candles still on, I don’t have to worry about it.

This is just one small change I am making this year so my holiday is a little safer. The Red Cross offers these additional tips to keep your home safe during the holiday season.

  • If you do decide to burn candles, make sure to keep them away from children, pets and decorations.
  • Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Place away from heat sources and exits. Water real trees daily.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • If hanging stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

On average, 7 people die and 36 people suffer injuries from home fires every day. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it is too late. The Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign works to reduce this number by urging American to follow two simple steps: check existing smoke alarms and practice home fire drills.

People can visit www.redcross.org for more information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from home fires.


Volunteer of the Month – Tara Williams


Tara williams rco_blog_img_Congratulations Tara Williams, the December 2015 Volunteer of the Month!

Tara became an American Red Cross volunteer just over a year ago. Since then, she has been a tremendous volunteer for multiple departments and entrusted Young Professionals Group leader. It all began when she blood at the Shopko company blood drive, in Green Bay, when Ben Delcore shared his volunteer experiences with her. The rest may be history as they say.

Tara jumped in from the start with both feet. Through her Young Professional Club experience her involvement within the different lines of service began to grow. She has been involved with The Club since its inception just over a year ago and has served as in active member participating in the Holiday Mail for Heroes Campaign, volunteering at blood drives, donor thank-a-thons and much more. Just recently, Tara was chosen to the new President of the Red Cross Young Professional Club effective November 1st. In this role, she will lead the Club into its second year of program development and membership recruitment. She is always the first to rally support and participate in events such as; the Packer 5K, Holiday Mail for Heroes, Dancing with Our Stars (DWOS) and Lambeau Field’s Spooktacular.

“Tara is the perfect volunteer example of a person who thinks with her heart and goes to work with her hands. She’s making life better for people around her and at the same time, it lifts her up too!” stated Barbara Behling, Communication Officer.

Tara has been an active participant in the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. During these events, she has used her skills as a social media ambassador to post comments and reflect on her observations and the positive interactions she has had with smoke alarm recipients.

In a one of a kind event, Tara was vital for the Trout Museum Pillowcase project. Not only did she work with their Public Relations person, she utilized Red Cross promotional materials to create a the news release and media alert and then drove to Green Bay early one morning to be on live TV to discuss the program. The day of the event, she worked with the materials, captured photos and so much more. She even rallied other young professionals to support the project.

This month, Tara will take on yet another role by becoming an adjunct Northeast Wisconsin Chapter board member. This young volunteer undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of her, as she continues to demonstrate the power of her ongoing commitment to the Red Cross mission.

Thank you, Tara for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community, we wish you a lifetime of continued success!

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

A Holiday Mail Story to Warm Your Holiday Spirit

It is always rewarding to give something that means something, especially during the holidays. No matter how big or small the gift is, it is the touching emotions and gratuity that make it all worth it.

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Mr. and Mrs. Claus are definitely watching! Tara and Alexa made it on the nice list!

Rachel Goodrich, Holiday Mail For Heroes Coordinator from our Madison office shares her heartfelt experience delivering holiday cards, celebrating with veterans, and watching her daughters as youth volunteers.

This past Tuesday, Rachel and her two daughters, Tara and Alexa, along with other Red Cross volunteers delivered holiday mail to the veterans at Tomah VA. The holiday mail delivery is part of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The program gives people the opportunity to send holiday cards to U.S. Armed Forces members, veterans and their families. Cards may include thanks, support and holiday cheer. As Rachel describes it,

“… a magical night of laughter, tears, smiles and dancing. Red Cross volunteers helped serve cookies and punch. We danced the night away with veterans while wheeling, spinning them around in their wheel chairs on the dance floor. We even took some of them back to their rooms after the evening was over.”

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Special Delivery! Tara gives a veteran his holiday mail!

At the beginning of the eventful night, the girls were a bit timid but once they warmed up, they danced and even asked the veterans to dance with them. And how sweet is this? Tara received a kiss on the hand from a veteran and was thanked for dancing with him. She thanked him for his service too.

Rachel recalls the emotions in the room when the veterans received their cards, “We watched tears roll down the faces of some veterans while reading their cards, smiles lit up the room as we shook their hands and thanked them for all that they have done. The sound of laughter and pure happiness filled the air while volunteers danced with Veterans. ”

It is great to know that Tara, 10 on Christmas Day and Alexa, 8, are making a difference in their community as youth volunteers. They are also registered on the American Red Cross Volunteer Connection, where they log in their own volunteer hours and badges and earn certificates. Rachel continues with, “I don’t even know how to put this into words. Kids love the community service and learning how to give back, show their appreciation, there is more to the world than what’s in front of them”.

A total of 63 packs of holiday mail were given to the veterans! Both girls attend Caesar Chavez Elementary School in Madison. Students in their class created cards as well.

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Red Cross volunteers (L-R: Sharon Ernst, Rachel Goodrich and Jane Ramsey) posed with the big Red Cross holiday card! Can you imagine how many notes and signatures were filled with that card?

We thank each and everyone of our volunteers for their time and dedication. Special thanks to those that sent in and created cards for the members of our armed forces and their loved ones.

To learn more about the Holiday Mail for Heroes programs, please click here. For more ways to help and donate, please click here.



10th Annual Dancing with the La Crosse Stars Shines Bright

Community leaders and professional dancers from Southwest Wisconsin came together on Saturday, November 28th to participate in the 10th Annual Dancing with the La Crosse Stars! Now in its tenth year, the event has raised $141,000 this year which brings the 10 year total to more than $740,000! All funds go right back into the community to support disaster relief, fire prevention outreach, life-saving programs to support of our military members and Veterans.

Eleven local celebrities and their professional dance partners competed to win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. Each team was raising funds since July to earn “votes” for their team. Final “votes” were cast during the intermission in which “Team Flower Power” (Bob Mock and Heidi Tabbert) raised the most votes, earning them the People’s Choice Award.

Each team received a fundraising score towards their overall total. The top fundraising team was Team “Make it Rain,” composed of Nehomah Thundercloud and professional dancer Amy Garvin. Together, they raised more than $25,000.

The near capacity crowd was treated to outstanding dance routines! In fact, two teams earned perfect scores from the judges: “Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” (Jim Reed and Katie Fish) and “Team Legal Motion” (Gifford Collins and Kate Phillips). “Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” was also selected as the Judge’s Choice Awards Winners.

"Team Rock ‘N’ Reed" (Jim Reed and Katie Fish)

“Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” (Jim Reed and Katie Fish)

At the end of the completion, fundraising scores and judge’s scores were combined to determine the overall winners. “Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” came out on top with a score of 47 out of 50 earning them to coveted Mirror Ball Trophy! “Team Flower Power” came in second with a score of 46. Third place went to “Team Legal Motion” with a score of 45, and fourth place went to “Team ‘You Go Girl’ (Leah Misch and Tiffany Brookman) with a score of 44.

In the end, every dance, professional and supporter is a winner in our eyes as they made our community stronger!

Check-out our photo album!

We’ll be putting our dance shoes back-on for the 11th annual next November! Will you join us?