SOUTH BEND March is National Red Cross Month, and volunteers hope people use this time as an excuse to give back. Since 1943, the sitting president has deemed this month as one to honor the service organization. President Obama made the official announcement over the weekend.
Blood donations likely come to mind when people think "Red Cross," but the organization hopes to shed light on other parts of its mission.
Historically, the Red Cross is remembered for helping military men, women and their families reunite during emergencies for over a century. The group provides refugee resettlement programs, helping seek shelter, education and health care for people entering the U.S. with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Plus, the volunteers help with disaster relief in situations from hurricanes and tornados, to house fires.
The Red Cross collects 40% of the blood supply through donation drives, but extreme winter weather led to a shortage over the 2013-14 winter season. Although many people endured "Snow Days," due to extreme cold, the need for blood in hospitals never ends. This season, the Red Cross has cancelled nearly 1,000 blood drives.
Winter weather also increased demand for volunteers during house fire emergencies. More people use space heaters during extreme cold, which can be dangerous if used inappropriately. 97% of the Red Cross work force is volunteer.
For volunteer opportunities or a list of blood drives, visit the Red Cross website and type in your area code.