Submitted by: Lisa Piraino
TV appearances, winning the lottery and deviled eggs – all part of a day’s work as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Although the real work of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies is done by Disaster Action Team volunteers (those are the folks getting the call in the middle of the night to go help a family who has just lost their home to a fire), there are opportunities to help the local Red Cross in ways that you might not have imagined.
As a fundraiser by profession, I help the Red Cross Financial Development and Communications teams. In order to raise money, people have to know about what the Red Cross is doing! Through partnerships with TV stations and newspapers as well as the SEPA Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Communications team shares updates on preparing for severe weather, fire safety and other Red Cross events. They also work closely with the Red Cross fundraising team to share how donors can help.
After the devastating series of tornadoes in Oklahoma last summer, the Red Cross partnered with CBS Philly to hold an all-day telethon. Volunteers staffed a phone bank and throughout the day CBS Philly anchors urged viewers to call in and donate. I worked a shift at the phone bank and enjoyed talking to many generous members of our community. I felt very privileged to be able to answer questions about Red Cross efforts
in Oklahoma (and in Philadelphia), many of the donors thanked me for my work, and it felt great to be a part of the Red Cross team. The highlight of the evening was when the woman sitting next to me took the information for a $5,000 donation – it felt like winning the lottery for the Red Cross.
I’ve also worked at Red Cross events designed to raise money and honor our partners, the first responders. At the Bucks County Police vs. Firefighter Football Game I was in charge of twitter coverage and staffing the biggest celebrity there – Fred Cross!
It was a beautiful fall day at Palisades High School. I played the part of a sideline reporter, interviewing the players and special guests, taking pictures and sharing game highlights.
Some Red Cross events focus on donors (like the telethon), or the community (like the football game), but many Red Cross events are for our clients: those who have suffered from fires, floods or other disasters. This past fall, Red Cross House hosted a barbeque for the residents, and asked for volunteers to help prepare and serve the food. So, on a Saturday morning I found myself making hundreds of deviled eggs. There were no TV cameras. There was no twitter feed. We were just a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers helping.
If you’ve wanted to volunteer with the Red Cross but aren’t sure how to begin, don’t let that stop you anymore! The mission of the Red Cross is so big and the work so expansive that there is a place for everyone to help.
Lisa Piraino is a former employee turned volunteer with the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania.