By Mathew Hurst and Catherine Kinney
"You mean there's more to the Red Cross than just hurricanes and blood drives?"
As such a globally-recognized symbol, the Red Cross can mean many different things to many different people. Given the broad scope of our humanitarian mission, we wanted to share a few facts that you may not have known about the work of the Red Cross here in NYC, across the country and around the world.
1. The Red Cross is the largest humanitarian network in the world.
The American Red Cross is part of a global Red Cross network comprised of more than 10 million volunteers working in nearly 190 countries around the world! The nature of the day-to-day work may vary but the guiding humanitarian mission and principles remain the same.
2. Every year the President of the United States proclaims March as Red Cross Month.
In a tradition which dates back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, every year at the beginning of March, the Commander-in-Chief declares March as Red Cross Month. On March 2 of this year, President Obama proclaimed,
“Their service has meant so much to so many, and it reflects a fundamental American truth: we look out for one another and we do not leave anyone behind. This month, we renew our sense of common purpose and honor all those whose sacrifices have made our society more prepared, resilient, and united.”
3. The Red Cross aided those who survived the sinking of the Titanic.
When passengers arrived in New York harbor following the sinking of the Titanic, the Red Cross was there in 1914 to help those who survived one of history’s deadliest maritime disasters. Red Cross also offered assistance to families who lost loved ones when the Titanic went down. Here’s one family’s story.
4. 90% of the disasters the American Red Cross responds to are home fires.
5. In the movie Ghostbusters, the Red Cross was at the ready to assist those affected by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
When many people think of the Red Cross, our relief efforts following natural disasters usually come to mind first. But the Red Cross provides more assistance following home fires than after any other disaster. With nearly 2000 responses to home fires every year in this region, Greater NY is the busiest in region in the country for the American Red Cross. Make sure you are prepared for a home fire by checking out our Home Fire Safety and Prevention tips.
Even the Ghostbusters need a little help now and then. You might have missed our cameo, but the Red Cross was there to offer comfort and care to Louis Tully and all affected by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, just like we do outside the silver screen.
Just remember: When you need help in an emergency “who you gonna call?” should still be 911, and right behind first responders you can expect to see a helping hand from one of our Red Cross volunteers.
6. The Red Cross can help you prepare for Godzilla and Sharknado.
Being a Red Cross volunteer means being prepared and helping others prepare, even for disasters as unlikely as Godzilla and Sharknado. Previous Red Cross blog posts have helped get residents ready for both.
We recommended having flashlights, batteries, food, water, and maps in case of these emergencies and a safe place to meet your family in case you are split up. Our Red Cross Emergency App is another great resource to prepare for the unexpected.
7. There are THREE symbols that represent the Red Cross Network Globally.
Along with the Red Cross symbol, did you know the two other symbols used by our global network? The Red Crescent was formally recognized in 1929 and today is used by 33 of the 189 recognized societies worldwide. The Red Crystal is another neutral symbol of the Red Cross, formally recognized in 2005.
8. During the Northeast Blackout of 2003, the Red Cross responded to more than 70 fires.
The Northeastern blackout, the world’s second-most widespread blackout, affected about 45 million people in eight U.S. states. While Red Cross response teams were out helping stranded commuters, volunteers were also providing assistance following more than 70 home fires. To put things in perspective, on average, the Greater NY Red Cross responds to seven local emergencies every day. Why so many fires in a short period of time? Unsafe use of candles was one reason. Click here for Red Cross Tips on coping with power outages.
9. The American Red Cross accepts vehicle donations.
The Red Cross doesn't only accept money, we are able to receive vehicle donations as well. As a donor, the program provides a cost-free way to dispose of your unwanted vehicle while getting a tax deduction. Donating your vehicle is another great way to help us help others.
10. The International Red Cross has won 4 Nobel Peace Prizes.
Henri Dunant, founder of the International Red Cross, was the co-recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his humanitarian work. Since then, the Red Cross has won the honor three other times: 1917, 1944 and 1963.
11. Red Cross is a part of the United Nations.
12. Volunteers constitute 90% of the total workforce of the American Red Cross.
Red Cross volunteers fulfill many roles, from providing assistance following home fires,to teaching CPR, to installing free smoke alarms, to coordinating blood drives,to serving as board members and so much more. Since we are dependent on our volunteer force to carry out most of our humanitarian work, volunteers enable us to carry out our mission in NYC and beyond. Across the organization, the Red Cross has an average of 14 volunteers to every employee.
If you’re passionate about helping people and looking to volunteer with a visionary humanitarian organization, you can make a difference with the Red Cross by becoming a volunteer today.
13. Every 60 seconds in the US, 44 people turn to the American Red Cross for comfort, care and hope.
To learn more about the Red Cross mission and how you can join us, visit www.redcross.org.
Note: Yes, we realize that Rick Moranis appeared twice in this blog post.