2 minute readDisaster, History
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When Studying a Hero Makes You a Hero

When 6-year-old Claire Stewart was given the task of learning and writing about a hero, she chose Clara Barton. Little did the Corpus Christi, TX, kindergartener know that she, in turn, would become a Red Cross hero, herself.

Claire, the oldest of the three daughters of Elizabeth and David Stewart, attends St. James Episcopal School. Her teacher challenged her with an assignment to research and write four facts about someone they consider a hero. Perhaps it was because their first names are similar, but Claire chose Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.

“She didn’t know that [Clara] worked for the American Red Cross,” said her mother Elizabeth. “But I think she found a similarity in her name and went for it.”

“And went for it” she did! Working with her parents, Claire prepared her report. Part of her research involved going to a Red Cross Coastal Bend Chapter office. When Claire toured the facility with her father, she was most impressed by the “white buckets.”

“They have a bucket with all the supplies,” Claire said. “You need to clean your house after a disaster.”

When Claire suggested to her father that they should donate money to the Red Cross, he said he wasn’t carrying any cash, but would donate online when they got home. Not wanting to wait, Claire pulled out $20 of birthday money from her purse and promptly made her donation. She did it because she wanted to help the Red Cross help others.

“That was the sweetest thing,” Elizabeth Stewart said. “She just took it out of her little purse and gave it to them.”

And what were the four facts Claire learned about Clara Barton? She first mentioned that Barton helped find more than 22,000 soldiers at the end of the Civil War. Claire also noted that Barton became known as “The Angel of the Battlefield,” that she founded the Red Cross in 1881, and that she led the organization for more than 20 years.

“I think it was really cool that she happened to pick who she picked, because we could take her here to the American Red Cross,” Elizabeth said. “We are in an area where natural disasters happen. We have a lot of hurricanes here.”

The Stewart family, which in recent years moved to Corpus Christi from the Houston area, has seen the work of the Red Cross firsthand – especially in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. “A bunch of tornadoes hit Houston and the American Red Cross was there,” she said. “It’s really easy to talk about with our children because we’re, you know, between hurricanes and tornadoes, I feel like we have we have seen them several times.”

It may have been happenstance that Claire chose Clara Barton as her hero, but her mother was glad she did. “As soon as she said Clara Barton, I said, ‘Oh, well, we have some places we need to go because it’s so close to home,’” Elizabeth said. “So that’s been, I think, one of the coolest parts about her hero.” Perhaps. But there are many who feel that the “coolest part” of this experience is that six-year-old Claire Stewart is now a Red Cross hero, herself.

Just like Claire, you too can make a difference in your community and support the Red Cross by making a financial donation, giving blood, becoming a volunteer, or taking a class to learn lifesaving skills like first aid and CPR.

This was originally published on the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region’s blog.