2020: Need for Red Cross Services Continues Amid COVID-19

New Jersey Red Cross is thankful to those stepping up during pandemic

Faced with a relentless disaster season including multiple major hurricanes and tropical storms in the south and devastating wildfires in much of the west, combined with daily responses to local home fires, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have been working tirelessly for months across the country to provide food, shelter and comfort to thousands of people in need.

“As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, disasters like massive hurricanes and wildfires, as well as devastating home fires here in New Jersey, have upended thousands of lives across the country,” said Rosie Taravella, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Through it all, our volunteers continue to step up to help others. We are extremely grateful for their compassion, especially during this pandemic. It’s a true testament to the humanitarian spirit of people in New Jersey.”

VOLUNTEERS ANSWER CALL TO HELP Since mid-August, the American Red Cross New Jersey Region has deployed nearly 70 disaster workers to help with large-scale disaster relief operations for the hurricanes and wildfires. New volunteers also stepped up at a pivotal time to fill mission-critical positions, such as shelter and health workers addressing urgent disaster needs. In addition, more than 50 disaster workers deployed virtually, handling roles for specific relief operations while physically remaining in New Jersey during their two-week deployment commitment.

Volunteers continue to aid people affected by home fires in New Jersey during the pandemic, helping them secure a safe place to stay and providing food, emotional support and other assistance. Volunteers have also stepped up to assist with pandemic-related assignments including care and comfort kit assembly for frontline workers and military members, and canteen services as requested at testing sites around the state.

“Every day, people in New Jersey rely on us to help prevent and alleviate their suffering, and we’re grateful to our volunteers and employees working to support those we serve, as well as to our generous donors who make the Red Cross mission possible,” added Taravella.

Last year, the Red Cross responded to 848 local disasters in New Jersey, mostly home fires, helping more than 2,000 displaced families with emergency assistance.

BLOOD DONORS SAVE LIVES In 2020,Red Cross blood drive cancellations tripled compared to the year prior — mostly due to COVID-19. Since March, more than 50,000 blood drives were canceled nationwide as the pandemic forced schools, businesses and community organizations to close. The Red Cross alerted the public to the crisis and people came out to donate blood — many of them giving for the first time.

“The Red Cross is thankful to all of the people in New Jersey who came out, rolled up their sleeve and donated blood,” said Taravella. “Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to our volunteer blood donor ambassadors and transportation specialists helping to provide cancer patients, trauma victims and others with lifesaving blood. We also appreciate all of the New Jersey organizations and businesses who continue to hold blood drives during the pandemic, knowing how important blood donation is to the health of the community.”

Blood donation is an essential service, and everyone’s well-being is top priority for the Red Cross. The organization follows the latest public health guidelines, as well as has put additional precautions in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

This pandemic has also caused the Red Cross to adapt its collections to include plasma from COVID-19 survivors to potentially help those battling the virus recover. Thousands of COVID-19 survivors have stepped up to share their potentially lifesaving antibodies by giving plasma, including many in New Jersey. Since April, nearly 25,000 COVID-19 survivors nationwide have rolled up a sleeve — many of whom are new to blood donation. Their donations have enabled the Red Cross to ship nearly 50,000 units to hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients.

HOW YOU CAN HELP During the holiday season, help people in need by donating at redcross.org/gift. A gift of any size makes a difference. If you’re healthy and feeling well, we also urge you to donate blood this holiday season. Your blood donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to schedule an appointment today.

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