I’ve noticed recently a few comments posted to this blog by readers who are interested in getting involved with the American Red Cross but aren’t sure how to take the first step, or even what that first step might be.
And because it’s the beginning of January and we’re all busy making New Year’s Resolutions – many of which are likely related to volunteering and/or providing support to those in need – I’d be willing to bet that this blog has recently attracted at least a few new readers.
So for those who’ve already decided that involvement with the American Red Cross is on the agenda for the year, and also for those who are just now joining our readership and may eventually decide to support the American Red Cross in one way or another, I thought I’d share with you how to take that first step.
First, a bit of important background information to help you understand how the American Red Cross is organized.
We are a National organization headquartered in Washington D.C. Under the umbrella of the American Red Cross are hundreds of Chapters, all responsible for providing American Red Cross services (providing relief to victims of disaster and helping people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies) throughout their jurisdictions. Unless you live in Washington D.C. or the surrounding metropolitan area, involvement with the American Red Cross is most easily accomplished through your local chapter.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that, in most cases, only registered and trained volunteers can provide American Red Cross services. If you think you might like to be deployed (sent to a disaster-stricken area) when the next big hurricane or tornado or flood hits, GET INVOLVED NOW so you’ll be ready when you’re needed.
Second, the steps you need to take.
- If you don’t know your zip code, look it up; your zip code will be needed to connect you with your American Red Cross chapter.
- Look up your zip code on redcross.org. Once you enter your zip code and click “find”, the page will update and you will see the name, address, and phone number of your local American Red Cross chapter along with links to email the chapter and visit the chapter’s website. You will also see the name of your local American Red Cross blood region and links to schedule a blood donation appointment and visit the region’s website.
- If you’d like to donate blood, you can also visit our blood donation website to search by zip code. You’ll immediately be directed to a page listing all of upcoming blood drives in your area. Follow the instructions to schedule an appointment online and then show up – it’s that easy!
- If you’d like to volunteer, click on the link to your chapter’s website, and then on the heading on the chapter’s homepage that reads, “Volunteer”. (Each chapter’s website is slightly different, but all will have links on their homepages with similar – if not identical – headings.) You’ll be volunteering before you know it! You can also call your local chapter to get information on volunteering.
- If you’d like to take a class, enter in your zip code here.
- If you’d like to donate money, visit our donation page at redcross.org to see a variety of ways to donate.
If you have additional questions about how to get involved, please don’t hesitate to post your questions in the comment section.
The first step is almost always the most difficult, but I promise you, it gets easier on down the road.