March is Red Cross Month, and the American Red Cross wants to thank all who help their community by giving of themselves - our volunteers, financial supporters and those who take our safety training classes.
The Hawaii Red Cross is on call 24/7, 365 days a year to respond to disasters and to provide emergency communication between deployed military service members and their families. We also teach important skills such as baby-sitting and nurse aide training.
Last fiscal year, the Red Cross in Maui County responded to 16 disasters, helping 72 members of the Maui community get back on their feet and start rebuilding their lives after tragedy struck. We opened one Red Cross shelter due to a civil disturbance, sheltering 43 individuals who needed to evacuate or were unable to return to their residences. Our volunteers served 111 meals to emergency responders and to those affected by disasters. We provided 227 certificates for free disaster training courses to volunteers interested in responding to emergencies and reached 2,707 individuals in the community with disaster preparedness information. We also taught critical skills like first aid, CPR and aquatics to almost 1,300 individuals in Maui County as part of our mission of saving lives.
Our strong cadre of 126 active Red Cross volunteers cares deeply about the community and works to help us to further the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross on Maui. Our Disaster Action Team volunteers are on-call 24/7 and are trained in shelter operations, damage assessment, client services including financial assistance, crisis counseling and immediate first-aid services. All disaster response and training is provided free of charge.
With the threat of an influenza pandemic, terrorist attack and major disasters, the American Red Cross is more relevant and necessary than ever before. It is not if but when a major disaster in Hawaii will occur and, when it does, we must be able to stand on our own until outside reinforcements arrive. Having trained volunteers on the island ready to respond to disasters is critical.
There are many ways the people of Maui County can support the Red Cross during March.
One way to help is to shop at our Awesome Online Auction at www.hawaiiredcross.org through March 16. Great deals are available for a great cause. You can bid on airline travel to the West Coast and Neighbor Islands, hotel stays, a Toyota Prius, a stand-up paddle board, restaurant certificates, golf, jewelry and more.
From March 13 to 19, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have a special promotion where they will donate $1 to the Hawaii Red Cross if you purchase either of these items: Pizza Hut's nine-piece Pizza Sliders at regular price or Taco Bell's Cool Ranch Doritos Taco box meal.
From March 15 to 17, we will have our annual "Hats Off" event where off-duty firefighters, police officers, service members, businesses, clubs and individual volunteers take their "hats off" for the American Red Cross and ask the public to fill their hats with donations. Volunteers will be collecting donations at Walmart in Kahului all three days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On March 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., donations will also be collected at the Maui Mall entrance outside of Whole Foods Market in Kahului, Hasegawa General Store in Hana and Friendly Market on Molokai. During March and April, Aloha Petroleum will have customer donation canisters in their stores. Circle K Maui will also have customer donation canisters in its stores in March. All collections will go to the Hawaii Red Cross.
The Red Cross would like to encourage everyone to develop a preparedness plan for their household, to become a volunteer and to sign up for a CPR or first-aid class. For more information, visit www.hawaiiredcross.org.
All donations are much needed and appreciated. The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on the generosity of Hawaii's people to provide our humanitarian services to our communities. Mahalo for your support.
* Michele Liberty is the Maui County director for the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter.