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Editorial: Volunteers are lifeblood of Red Cross

For a century, the Carroll County chapter of the American Red Cross has been responding to emergencies and disasters when people need them most.

On Wednesday, representatives from the Western Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross, of which the Carroll chapter is part, celebrated those 100 years at the Carroll County Farm Museum, recognizing staff, supporters and volunteers — like Ted Cook, who has been the blood donation drive coordinator at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster since 1964 — for their service.

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At one point, during World War I, there were 17,000 Carroll residents who were members of the local chapter of the Red Cross, about half of the county's population at the time. Today, there are 67 volunteers from Carroll serving with the Red Cross. They continue to do invaluable work, both locally and during national responses to disasters like hurricanes and flooding to the wildfires currently raging in northern California.

Most of the work being done, however, is within our own communities. When there is a house fire, Red Cross volunteers respond within a half-hour to assist them. Volunteers also provide life-saving training courses, assist military members and their families and, of course, organize blood drives.

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Volunteers and local officials came out Wednesday night to celebrate the centennial of the Red Cross in Carroll.

Volunteers are, pardon the pun, the lifeblood of the Red Cross. Volunteers are responsible for about 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the organization. And no matter what your skill set, chances are you can help.

Visit the Red Cross website and you'll find myriad opportunities locally and around the region. The largest percentage of volunteers work on a Disaster Action Team, those that respond to everything from house fires to hurricanes, but the jobs don't end there.

If you have a background in health fields, perhaps teaching CPR or first aid is what you would prefer to do.

Do you have experience in case management or social work with a strong sense of duty to support veterans? There are a number of opportunities to provide service to members of the U.S. armed forces.

Work in human resources? Red Cross could use those skills to help vet other volunteers.

Great at rallying people? Join the team to coordinate a blood drive or monetary donations to Red Cross.

Blessed with strong leadership skills? There are a number of boards and other decision-making committees within the organization that could use your skills.

"There is a great need and there is a great variety of jobs that you can do," Stephanie Kimble, a volunteer with the Western Maryland Chapter, told us at Wednesday's celebration. "If you want to respond to the fires, if you are more of a community educator, and you want to go out and educate the children about preparedness, we can put you in there."

Go to www.redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about how you can help this great organization to continue assisting others in Carroll County, and elsewhere, for another 100 years.



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