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More than a week ago, one of the strongest storms on record cut a path of devastation through the Philippines leaving thousands dead and even more stranded without food, water, shelter and basic medical care. Since that time, the Philippine Red Cross has been working

day and night to meet the needs of survivors.  The Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) will do all it can to support and contribute to the international mobilization behind the relief effort.

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Soon after the storm, the emergency responders at SEPA began taking calls from all over the United States from Americans anxious to have news of relatives in the Philippines. Bridge volunteers pass the information to the family tracing service at the American Red Cross. Although, we do not participate in the actual re-uniting of families, we understand that some who have called have been able to connect with loved ones in the past few days.

In addition, SEPA partnered with two news organizations to raise money for the relief effort. CBS Philly broadcast fundraising information for an entire day last week. In addition, SEPA head of Communications, Dave Schrader, gave an interview explaining the size and scope of the relief effort and made an appeal for financial donations.  The following day, 6ABC hosted a Typhoon Haiyan Telethon, which raised over 17,000 dollars in one evening.  Altogether, the American Red Cross has been able to provide an initial donation of six million dollars to support the relief effort.  These funds will go directly to providing food and clean water, establishing essential medical care, providing sanitation and rebuilding shelters. The money will also go to repair and replace a fractured communications system so that relief efforts can coordinate more effectively.

The Red Cross knows that coordination is essential in the wake of a disaster of this magnitude. American volunteers with expertise in telecommunications and satellite equipment are already in the Philippines trying to help first responders communicate with international donors about the most desperate needs on the ground. Other volunteers from the States will help will disaster assessment, as well as accurate mapping of the area so that help can reach all the places it is needed.

Already, Red Cross volunteers are receiving recognition for their extraordinary efforts. An article this week in the Wall Street Journal explained how volunteers gathered in nearby Cebu City to clean out an former Energizer battery factory so it could be used as a distribution hub for supplies sent from all over the world such as temporary shelters, cots, food, water and essential medical supplies. The Philippine Red Cross is the largest humanitarian organization in the country, and it is currently distributing emergency supplies and conducting ongoing search and rescue efforts.

SEPA will continue to support relief efforts in the coming weeks. Once the disaster relief infrastructure is in place, the International Red Cross will be able to determine where the most pressing needs are and how best to meet them.  In the meantime, SEPA is grateful for the generosity of Philadelphia area donors. Please click here to see our mission moment video showing our one week recap of local Red Cross response to Typhoon Haiyan

Written by Sarah Peterson

Walk Run Photo 2

On your mark, get set, GO!! . . .over to the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday Morning October 5th for the annual Red Cross Walk/Run! The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania hosts this crazy fun event to honor the thousands of heroes who help others in an emergency.

Officially referred to as the Red Cross Walk and Run to Save Lives, the walk/run is a 5K event that will take participants around and through the fantastic Philadelphia Zoo. Along the route, there will be water stations and motivational cheering sections. There will even be benches for those who need to rest every now and then.

You can join the event as an individual, or even better, as a team. All you need is two or more classmates, co-workers, family members or friends to receive a kit filled with ideas about how to prepare for the event. Some teams have corporate sponsorship and raise enormous amounts of money. Mere mortals might ask friends to match their donation. Prizes will be awarded for the top three individual fundraisers, as well as the top fundraising team and the top fundraising school.

 Don’t be intimidated by the word run. Participants can move through the course at whatever speed works best. If that means running, shuffling, toddling or veering off course because of a bad case of hippo amazement, we welcome the effort.

That said, the top male and female finishers will win prize money with $250 dollars going to first place, $150 to second place, and $75 to third. Also, awards will be given to the top male and female finishers in the following age groups: 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and older.

Here’s why you should come: Have you ever waved to a giraffe in the midst of your everyday exercise routine? Have you ever passed a zebra? Have you ever stopped to admire a beautiful bird or felt swifter than a leopard? Ever felt superior to a sloth? There are so many fascinating things to see and do at the zoo; it would be hard to pay attention to walk/run itself.

This is a perfect outing for young families. Get out of the house and enjoy this amazing autumn weather; come and push a stroller or two around the zoo for the Red Cross. Participants are invited to stay and enjoy the zoo for as long as they wish after the race.

In addition to the animals, large and furry Fred Cross and Ernie the ERV will be on hand to play with little ones. No longer parenting little ones? The race is a great opportunity to reconnect with a teenage. You’ll both be facing forward, so conversation should be easy. Sadly, pets are not allowed at the zoo… but there will be plenty of animals there to keep you company along the route.

The Walk and Run helps to raise funds for Red Cross House and local families left homeless by a fire, flood, or other disaster. It supports programs and services to help our community prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. People are invited to “participate in honor of the hero who saved your life, a family member’s, or a friend’s – to honor the thousands of heroes who, trained by the Red Cross, are ready to help save your life.” The Red Cross would like to extend its gratitude to participants who make it possible to answer the call for help, one family at a time, whenever and wherever disaster strikes.

Blog posted by Communications Volunteer Sarah Peterson.

I bet there are going to be a lot of readers of this post who have no idea that the Red Cross offers the Lifeline Service, but I’m here to inform you and explain how this service touched my own personal life.

My Grandma with her two great-grandchildren, my two daughters.

My Grandma with her two great-grandchildren, my two daughters.

My grandmother is 88 years old and relatively healthy. Of course, she’s had her ailments like arthritis, shingles and a couple falls, but nothing too major, so she continues to live alone in her home. I can say that her independent living arrangement continues to be at her own insistence, because our family would like her to live somewhere that can provide her with some assistance with cleaning, meals and other things that you just don’t think about day-to-day, but she is still able to assert her independence, and she does. This seems typical of most aging folk. A compromise came a couple years ago, when she agreed to sign up for some sort of monitoring service with a button she could wear around her neck as her lifeline should she fall or become suddenly unable to reach the phone. (picture the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial from the early 90’s) This is where Lifeline came in. I was a new employee with the Red Cross, but urged my mother to choose the service with a tie to my new organization and she did.

Since becoming a subscriber to the service, my grandmother has made use of it more than once. I recall one time she took a small spill while trying to dust a higher shelf and the fall alerted Lifeline officials to check on her. That time, she was fine, but a more serious incident happened recently when she had to press the button for help. Dispatchers were able to call medics to her home and get in touch with my mom as well. In the end, she was able to get the medical help she needed.

After just 4 days in the hospital, doctors sent her home and she’s back in the care of Lifeline. The service has given her independence and it also gives me peace of mind knowing she has a Red Cross Lifeline to help.

Learn more about Lifeline on our website

Author of this post, Sara Smith is a Communications Specialist with the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania.
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We do inspiring work here at the Red Cross SEPA chapter. We spend our days helping others in need and according to our colleague, Terry Johnson, it’s “the best job in the world.”

Several Red Cross employees had the opportunity to explain the fulfillment that comes from doing “our kind of work” to several children who visited the office of the SEPA chapter for national “Take your Child to Work Day.” Upon arrival, they were greeted by Fred Cross and fed a delicious, “office kitchen” cooked breakfast of eggs, French toast and bacon. Our CEO, Judge Hughes came in toward the end of the meal and gave an enthusiastic welcome to all participants.

Next on the agenda was a tour around the building with Kevin Wilkins and Dianne Fingar. After a quick visit to Judge Hughes’s office, the kids toured The Bridge and learned about disaster response. The red phone, our direct line to the Philadelphia Fire Department was an object of fascination and served to emphasize the importance of our role in responding to fire disasters in our community. Next, the kids examined the detailed (and extremely fascinating) maps of the region on the wall next to The Bridge and learned which areas are subject to floods during heavy rain. After a short tour of the lunchroom, they received official Red Cross volunteer vests, worn by responders in emergencies. Dianne explained the purpose of Red Cross house and how the SEPA Red Cross is proud to provide a shelter for fire victims who do not have another place to stay.

Eventually, we found our way down to the vehicle well and the young people inspected a few emergency vehicles and heard which ones respond in different disaster situations. Terry Johnson proved an excellent guide and fervent promoter of the emergency responder role. He was proud of the ERV fleet and it’s capacity to provide essentials to those who have lost everything. We learned that the Red Cross has 30,000 cots for disaster response in our region. Amazing!

Later, the kids joked and laughed at a pizza lunch with Judge Hughes. She quizzed our visitors about favorite sports teams and was shocked to discover that allegiance to our home town teams was not as strong as she assumed. One brave twelve year old, Ricardo, stood firm in his loyalty to The Raiders despite her teasing. Sixteen year old, Lawrence, talked about his experience as a volunteer fire fighter, and Linda, 14, showed everyone a picture of her bass guitar, which is shaped like a daisy. Everyone agreed it was very cool.

One of the most moving scenes of the day was watching the kids learn how to provide citizen CPR, basic first aid. They tried very hard to get it right as they practiced creating a basic sling and bandaging one another. It was a reminder of how everyone, young and old, appreciates learning how to be useful in a time of need.