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Written by David Haas

A priority for the Red Cross is reducing fire deaths in Eastern Pennsylvania. On Wednesday June 6th, Red Cross volunteers participated in a neighborhood safety walk-through with the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Fire Protection Division and the Fire Department Explorers (the Fire Explorers is a program for teens and young adults interested in fire science, emergency medical services (EMS), disaster relief, emergency management, and military-related training).

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During the three-hour event, Red Cross volunteers installed smoke alarms and discussed fire safety with residents of the North Philadelphia neighborhood around Bustleton Ave. & Van Kirk St. where a fire death recently occurred. The Red Cross participates in fatal fire walkthroughs along side the Philadelphia Fire Department to promote fire safety and install smoke alarms in at-risk communities.

Concerned residents warmly welcomed the volunteers, who explained that fires are a major issue in aging homes around Philadelphia.  The most important thing someone can do to prevent fire is to install a smoke alarm. The second most important thing is to have an emergency escape plan.  In almost every house visited, non-working and outdated detectors were found and replaced.

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The Fire Department supplied smoke alarms while the Red Cross supplied drills and step ladders. Members of the Red Cross Spiritual Care team provided assistance to residents who needed support. WCAU Channel 10, the local NBC affiliate, recorded the event for coverage on its TV news program and online. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel was on hand to thank the program participants.

You can check www.SoundTheAlarm.org/EasternPA to learn more, or access Volunteer Connection to sign up for an upcoming event.  Disaster Action Team members are alerted to Fire Walkthrough in coordination with the Fire Department.

Written by Megan Speight

Guests partied with a purpose at the 18th Annual Red Cross Red Ball. Named “Philadelphia’s best black-tie charity”, the event did not disappoint. More than 1,100 guests consisted of Red Cross supporters and volunteers, along with people looking to have fun on a Saturday night for a good cause.

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The event was held for the third year at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. The setting provided incredible views of the City of Philadelphia and great photo opportunities looking out over the field.

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Like many events organized by the Red Cross, volunteers were on hand to help everything run smoothly. Volunteers are a crucial reason the Red Cross is so successful and many volunteers have tenure with the organization that can last decades.

So where does this loyalty come from? Jennifer Ingram, communications volunteer, shared why she volunteers for the Red Cross. “I was unemployed, looking for something to do amid job searching. With a passion for writing, I decided to volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Communications Department. That was about six years ago and I haven’t stopped since. I continue because I like the mission and what the organization stands for. Their impact is much wider than just asking people for blood and I’m happy to support them,” she said.

Volunteers aren’t the only individuals who support the Red Cross because of its impactful mission. Guests Ron and Kristina DeGregorio shared that they are “very supportive of the mission and the wonderful job the team does rallying the broader community.”

Community is one of the reasons that I continue to volunteer with the Red Cross as well. I know that no matter what event I support, there is an almost immediate bond I feel with other volunteers. We all know we are there to do great work and support an organization that has a global impact. Additionally, when I volunteer with the Red Cross, I meet and interact with new and interesting people.

One interesting person I was able to meet at the Red Ball was the newly crowned Miss Philadelphia 2018, Aimee Turner. Aimee shared that this is traditionally the first event Miss Philadelphia attends after being crowned. The event draws a fun crowd of diverse people from the Greater Philadelphia Area and provides a great opportunity to mingle and make new connections. She also reiterated that the Red Cross is an “important and great cause to support.”

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One of the highlights and draws of the event is all of the delectable food choices available for guests to enjoy. There were over two dozen appetizer and dessert vendors that served everything from pork croquettes and pizza to water ice and strawberry shortcake.

 

 

One volunteer, Tashema Johnson, raved about the food when sharing why she volunteers for the Red Cross. “I initially started volunteering with my old job a few years ago. When I left, I had already been so involved and supportive of the mission that I didn’t want to stop volunteering. I currently volunteer at the local Red Cross House, but I also support the organization at fire safety events and of course the Red Ball. I love volunteering at the Red Ball because I get to learn about different restaurants and caterers in the city to try out and because I’m guaranteed to wear a nice dress,” she said.

Throughout the evening, guests are able to vote on their favorite appetizer and dessert vendors. This year’s winners were Mission BBQ and Candies and Cakes by Mary Ellen, who both won for the second year in a row.

My favorite appetizers were the Pork Croquettes at Walnut Street Café, Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab Fries and Cheese, and the melt in your mouth scallops served by Devon Seafood during the VIP pre-game party. My favorite dessert was definitely the Moscato drenched water ice served by Mr. D’s Sweets.

In the end, guests partied the night away thanks to the talented CTO bands who got people on their feet and on to the dance floor. Overall, the event was a warm evening filled with fun people, incredible food and was geared towards supporting the mission of the Red Cross.

 

 

Next year I’m looking forward to another mission driven evening with great food and incredible fashion. Did I mention how incredible everyone looked in almost every shade of red in countless different styles? Red Ball 2018 was definitely a fashion moment for the City of Philadelphia.

 

 

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“I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.”–President Franklin D. Roosevelt, first Presidential Proclamation of March as Red Cross Month, 1943

Each year the president of the United States proclaims March “Red Cross Month.” The Red Cross uses this opportunity to thank our supporters, increase public awareness and consideration of Red Cross’ mission and drive contributions.

The City of Philadelphia kicked off the month by flying Red Cross flags around City Hall. They were a beautiful site to see.

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While four back to back nor’easters were an unplanned surprise for March is Red Cross Month, the staff and volunteer of Red Cross Eastern PA were prepared.   We opened and supported more than half a dozen shelters and warming centers for more than 700 people affected by winter weather.

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Even with the bad weather and shelter openings, our volunteers continued to respond to the Red Cross’ most common emergency, home fires. Red Cross of Eastern PA volunteers responded to more than 100 emergencies and home fires during the month of March, assisting more than 450 people. We worked with the Philadelphia Fire Department to install smoke alarms and talk fire safety at three different neighborhoods where fatal fires occurred.

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Daylight Saving Time began and people lost an hour of sleep by turning the clocks forward. The Red Cross encouraged people to “Turn and Test” – Turn the clocks and test your smoke alarm.

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The Harlem Globetrotters named the Red Cross their “official charity” and we had the opportunity to raise funds and engage our volunteers at nearly 300 performances across the country. Our volunteers “passed the bucket” to collect donations from those attending games in Reading, Allentown, Philadelphia, and Wilkes-Barre.

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The Lehigh Valley-Bucks chapter gave a sneak peak of the upcoming 2018 Cabaret and Cuisine: Back to the 80s. Doc Brown even showed up to encourage people to attend the event held Friday April 20th at Olympus Headquarters in Center Valley.

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The Northeast chapter honored 19 local heroes at the NEPA Heroes celebration. The evening celebrated the prior year’s local heroes for using their First Aid, CPR, AED training and/or other actions to save lives or make Northeastern PA a better place to live and work.

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The Southeastern chapter hosted Philadelphia’s premier party and best black-tie charity gala, Red Ball. The evening was a big success with more than eleven hundred guests enjoying live entertainment, delicious delight from more than two dozen restaurants, a silent auction and much more at Lincoln Financial Field.

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Red Cross Month wrapped up with Giving Day on March 28th. The Red Cross geared up for the big day, asking people to #help1family. Thousands responded and more than two million dollars was raised to help 28,000 families with urgent relief like food, shelter, and other essentials.

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It certainly was a busy month and that’s how we know we are fulfilling the mission of the Red Cross.

Written by Bryan Meyers

The night before the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade, I strolled down Vine Street in the cold and windy rain. Heading for Logan Square, I saw the Jumbotrons with 24-speaker setups. As I walked the Ben Franklin Parkway, dozens of port-o-potties were stationed alongside the stretch of road leading to the Art Museum. Production trucks rumbled as generators offered light to workers drenched in rain. The Eagles flags flew high in the night.

The City of Philadelphia planned for approximately 2 million people to attend the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade — giving public workers the day off and closing schools. In just a few short hours, this area would be packed with rowdy Eagles fans, celebrating their long-awaited Super Bowl victory.

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Anticipating the large crowds and cold temperatures, the Red Cross suggested the public dress warm, prepare for long walks, and bring snacks.

Public transit also geared up for the impending overload to their system. SEPTA’s regional rail sold out half-a-million transit tickets within 24 hours. Independence Blue Cross took on the costs of the Broad-Street and Market-Frankford subway lines.

The Super Bowl champions started from the Sports Complex, south of Oregon Avenue, and headed north up Broad Street.

The Eagles fans were more than ready.

With the warm sunlight pouring onto the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade. “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!” could be heard throughout the streets of Philadelphia.

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The parade began at 11 a.m. Although, people were gathering around the Art Museum steps some twelve hours prior. They even crossed the Delaware River via the Ben Franklin Bridge through the early morning hours.

There was nothing that could stop riled Eagles fans from participating in a city-wide celebration.

Medic (EMS) tents were positioned in two locations on the Ben Franklin Parkway by the Philadelphia Fire Department. Alpha-numeric “location markers” were also posted along the parkway “to clearly and easily identify a location or section … to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.”

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Road closures and parking restrictions along the parade route were mandated, while meter and time limit regulations from the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) were not enforced.

Thus the celebrations rang out, wild and free, with the late-afternoon sunshine.

The Philadelphia Eagles were Super Bowl champions.

The city of Philadelphia is flying high after the Eagles Super Bowl win. To celebrate the World Champions, the city will host a five-mile-long parade expected to draw more than two million people.

The parade will start at 11:00 a.m. Thursday near Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia. A celebration at Eakin’s Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will start around 1 p.m. The entire event will end around 3 p.m.

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If you are going to the parade, the American Red Cross wants you to enjoy the festivities and stay safe!

What to wear:

Thursday will be cold and breezy, so make sure you bundle up with layers, hats, gloves, and scarves. Temperatures will climb into the low 30s, but the wind will make it feel like it’s in the 20s through the afternoon. There will be a lot of walking to and from the parade so make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.

What to bring:

Pack enough water, juice and snacks to sustain your group for much of the day. Do not leave bags unattended. Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, accelerates the symptoms of hypothermia. Alcohol is a depressant and hastens the effects of cold on the body. Alcohol also slows circulation and can make you less aware of the effects of cold. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration.

How to get there:

All visitors are encouraged to take public transit when coming into Philadelphia. If, however, driving is necessary, the City encourages drivers to park in off-street lots and garages along the Parkway, Broad Street, or near the stadium complex. Be sure to have a full tank of gas. There will be significant travel delays on both roadways and public transportation immediately before, during, and after the Eagles Parade. Be patient!

Where to “go”:

The city has placed 850 port-o-potties along the parade route. It’s also a good idea to bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

How to keep in touch:

Do not depend on cell phones to keep in contact with family and friends. With the large number of people expected to attend the parade, cell phone service will be limited. Texting usually works better than calling. Set up a meeting spot in case anyone from your group is separated. Ensure children have contact information for their parents or guardians on their person. Children should find a police officer if they become lost or separated.

Stay informed:

To receive important Eagles info from the City, like parade, transit, and public safety details, sign up for free ReadyPhila alerts. Text “ReadyEagles” to 888-777. Also, download the Red Cross First Aid app for tips on how to treat minor injuries. Two medical tents will also be located along the Parkway.

What to do:

Have lots of fun and stay safe! E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!

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-submitted by Sarah Peterson, communications volunteer

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was responsible for setting up the first fire company in Philadelphia? On a visit to see his family Boston, he observed that Bostonians were much better equipped to fight fires and save lives than the people of Philadelphia. According to the website, ushistory.org, after consulting with civic leaders in Philadelphia, he gathered 30 young men together to form the Union Fire Company on December 7, 1736. These men had special equipment provided by the community, and they began meeting regularly to practice their techniques and discuss successful firefighting procedures.

In order to raise public awareness, Franklin began writing about fire safety in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. In one article, written in 1735, he cautions his fellow citizens against moving hot coals from room to room on an open shovel, in case one ember is lost under the stairs and results in a middle-of-the-night,“when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.”

rco_blog_img_BenFranklinFire safety awareness has improved since the 1700s. No doubt Franklin would have been thrilled by the efficacy of smoke detectors, but we still struggle to make sure fire safety measures are protecting everyone.  On October 3rd, 2014, the White House released a proclamation by President Obama to mark Fire Prevention Week and to remind all Americans of the danger of fire. He urged all of us to practice evacuations plans from our homes, schools and places of business. He urged Americans who live near woodlands to practice caution and clear flammable vegetation from around buildings. He reminded all of us that, “During Fire Prevention Week, we recognize our duty to be vigilant and take action to avert fires, and we remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives so others might live.”

That’s why the Pennsylvania State House also took some time this week to recognize National Fire Prevention Week. According to State Senator Rob Teplitz, the week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and was first designated in 1920. It is still unclear how the devastating fire in Chicago got started, but it burned for two days, destroyed 3.3 square miles of the city’s central business district, killed up to 300 people and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. In 1920, officials decided that such a massive disaster deserved the be remembered in a way that could help everyone learn more about fire safety and prevention and President Woodrow Wilson released the first National Fire Prevention Week Proclamation.

Appropriately, this year’s theme is “Smoke alarms save lives: Test yours every month.” As Franklin surely knew when warning about embers in an open shovel, home fire deaths are preventable but require residents to take care. We no longer worry about lost embers, but we must test our smoke alarms regularly and change the batteries twice a year.

As Franklin writes in 1735, “In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure” we must all be vigilant against the dangers of fire. We remember terrible disasters like the Chicago fire by taking the time to remind ourselves of this basic truth. Check your batteries, everyone! Take the time to practice an escape route from your home. And don’t carry those embers in an open shovel.

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By Caroline Hroncich, American Red Cross Volunteer and Villanova student

As a senior in college, I have come to think of this time in my life as a stepping-stone between childhood and adulthood. You are given freedom, but are not yet required to be completely independent. We often don’t realize how much we rely on our universities to provide us with essentials. Personally, I did not realize how much I relied on my school until Superstorm Sandy hit.

Until Sandy, I had never thought about what I would do in the face of a disaster at college. I have distinct memories of my 19-year-old self, perched atop my bunk bed, listening to rain pound the window. The lights flickered frequently, threatening to die; all I had to eat was a bag of tortilla chips. I was completely unprepared. The school lost power, the dining hall could not be kept open, and my friends and I found ourselves confined to our dorm rooms while the storm raged around us. After talking to my friends who attend other universities, I realized this was not an uncommon experience.

While universities are equipped to deal with disasters, it is equally as important for students to prepare. During my junior year, a major snowstorm hit, leaving me (I was now living in an on-campus apartment) without power. Being without light meant there was a mad rush to purchase battery-powered lamps, leaving many students without alternative options to light their apartments. I lost most of my refrigerated food. The school urged everyone to go home, but since I did not live a convenient distance, that was not an option. A few of my friends considered going to a nearby hotel for the night.

rco_blog_img_CollegePrepAs a freshman, I laughed at my parents when they insisted I keep things like a flashlight in my dorm room. Now I realize how truly important those things are. Keeping items like a flashlight, extra batteries and a small portable lamp in your dorm are essential when it comes to emergency preparedness. Even food is important to keep in your room, just in case the dining halls are unable to serve you. My experience has definitely taught me that as we go about our busy college lives it’s important to stop for a second and think about if we are truly prepared.

— Cross-posted from the American Red Cross of Greater New York’s Blog