Helping The Red Cross, Help Us

Helping The Red Cross, Help Us
By: Arnold Wyrick
On April 18th the American Red Cross' Little Egypt Chapter will mark 12 years of providing emergency relief to the Southern Illinois Region. But the future of the chapter is looking a little bleaker than in years past. That's because the national organization will no longer subsidize the local chapter $25,000.00 a year.
"They told us we had to be self-sufficient within 10 years, and we didn't make it. So they gave us two more years of financial assistance. But now they're telling us we're going to have to do everything on our own, without their help," says Director Sandy Webster.
But the needs of the people in the region don't go away, just because there's no funds to help them put their lives back in order. In fact Webster says the local needs are increasing yearly.
"Last year we helped out 130 families displaced by fires. This year we're on track to hit 150 families in need. And that doesn't take into account the emergency military communications, where a family member has died, or is ill. And we've got to get that soldier home, whether they're in Iraq or Fort Sill where ever they are," Webster said.
"And we do that on just about a daily basis around here, which really is a lot for an area our size."
Beyond the big disasters like Hurricane Katrina the local chapter in a one week period of March, provided emergency relief to families in Alexander County whose homes were damaged by a micro burst. To Franklin County where people had to be evacuated from their homes due to flooding from the night before when tornados tore across Randolph and Perry Counties, the Red Cross Volunteers were there too. Rounding out the week a train derailment in Du Quoin displacing more than two hundred families, who have to be feed and taken care of until they could return home.
"And that's what Red Cross deals with, is the immediate emergency needs," Webster said.
Now it's her and her volunteers who are in need.
"One house fire isn't going to generate all the attention like a Hurricane Katrina would, or a large train derailment. But that family who just lost everything in the fire is just as devastated and traumatized as a person who loses it in a hurricane," Webster said.
"And the people in this region were very generous during Katrina donating more than $200,000.00 dollars. But that was an extreme need, and they were wonderful. But locally it's needed also just as crucially."
"And unlike the myth that's out there among some people who think that we get financial aide from the Federal Government, we don't. The only way Red Cross works is with volunteers, and local donations," Webster said.
If you'd like to learn more about the how to become a " Red Cross Hero", contact them at 618-988-1147, in Herrin.