Red Cross Clubs recognized for sharing the spirit of service during National Volunteer Month

By Katie Baneck, American Red Cross

This April we recognize all those who give their time and energy during National Volunteer Month. Each year, we shine a light on people that inspire us to serve, recognize their work, and thank volunteers who lend their time, talent and voice to make a difference in their communities. Doing good comes in many forms and we recognize and celebrate them all.

During National Volunteer Month, we appreciate and say thank you to all the Wisconsin Red Cross Clubs. They are truly helping the American Red Cross provide lifesaving blood and fulfilling its mission.

Left Alexa Schurtz, right Neely Swanson

Red Cross Clubs are a terrific way for youth and young adults, ages 13-24, to get involved with every facet of the Red Cross Mission. Across Wisconsin, there are 18 active Red Cross clubs, including 6 college clubs and 12 at the high school level. These clubs encompass more than 480 dedicated Red Cross volunteers ages 13-24. For the 2022-2023 school year alone, these clubs have amassed more than 2,200 volunteer hours, raised more than $2,800 and collected nearly 2,000 units of blood.

Around 8 years ago, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus started a Red Cross Club. “My favorite part about being in the Red Cross Club is feeling that I am making a difference within the community,” shares Club President Neely Swanson. “I am positive the club was started out of student passion for volunteer work.”

Left Olivia Ratchman, right Neely Swanson

Neely’s Red Cross Club at UW-Eau Claire was chosen as Wisconsin Region Club of the Year, with Neely being named College Club President of the Year. Neely sought to join a club during her first year of college and knew she wanted to join one she could really dedicate herself to, aspiring to assume a leadership role at some point. Neely says she was drawn to the Red Cross Club on campus because of the volunteer opportunities and the impact they had on the community. When asked for any words of encouragement to students considering joining their own Red Cross Club, Neely shared that “for students, being involved in an organization like this is a great way to meet new people and develop connections that could be beneficial later in life.”

High school students Nitya Patil and Mihika Shivakumar are co-presidents of the Red Cross Club at Vel Phillips Memorial High School in Madison. The students at Vel Phillips were the first high school club to reach their volunteer hours goal this year. Nitya founded the club in 2021 because she wanted to bring the Red Cross mission to Vel Phillips Memorial and expand volunteering opportunities for students. Nitya says that her favorite part about being involved in the club is “watching our school community come together to make a difference by volunteering.”

2023 Neenah High School Red Cross Club

The Neenah High School Red Cross Club is in its second year of action. They’re on track to log 100 volunteer hours by the end of the school year. The Club is led by Advisor Emily Bennett and President Leah Forget. This year completed a Map-a-Thon using MapSwipe, hosted a fundraiser in conjunction with the high school basketball season, and welcomed a guest speaker from our Disaster Cycle Services department.

Getting involved in your school’s Red Cross Club is as easy as reaching out and showing up. If you want to start your own Red Cross Club, the Red Cross offers free resources here. We hope that you feel inspired to go out and join or start a Red Cross Club.

During this National Volunteer Week, we salute our Red Cross volunteers, celebrate their accomplishments and recognize each and every one of them for their lifesaving work. Without these volunteer heroes the Red Cross could not achieve our mission of helping people in need.

More than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce is volunteers. Last year, more than 300,000 individuals volunteered their time to support the mission of the Red Cross.

Our volunteers are the sincere heart and soul of the Red Cross. With endless compassion and dedication, Red Cross volunteers give of themselves whenever and wherever they are needed. You, too, can help.

Please consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more, or make an appointment to give blood by visiting redcrossblood.org.

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