American Red Cross Turns 130
The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton exactly 130 years ago this past Friday. Ever since, the organization has provided relief to victims of disaster and helped people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Today it is a worldwide organization that aids victims of devastating domestic and international natural disasters.
More than 2,300 Red Cross workers continue to help people along the Mississippi River and in areas across the south where tornadoes wiped out entire communities. The volunteers operate shelters, distribute meals and clean-up supplies, and provide health and mental health services.
As well as these services, the Red Cross is well known for community services that help the needy; support and comfort for military members and their families; the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products; educational programs that promote health and safety; and international relief and development programs.
The numbers are impressive. With around 4.5 million volunteer blood donors, the American Red Cross distributes almost 9.5 million blood products each year. The organization responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year with a trained network of more than 60,000 volunteers. During relief operations, the organization has the ability to serve a million meals a day, and has enough cots, blankets and comfort kits for about 350,000 shelter residents.
Currently, the American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, made up of 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies and more than 13 million volunteers, all helping vulnerable people and communities around the world prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.