Climbing a Mountain for the Red Cross

The Finish Line

On a crisp Coachella Valley morning, John Williams, an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader hiked up Bump and Grind Trail with a backpack filled with 100- pounds of sand. Casual observers would question the logic of such an effort until they discovered his deep commitment for the Red Cross.

“Through the Red Cross, I am fulfilling my personal mission of helping change a life in crisis into a life of hope,” said Williams. “America’s spirit shines when everyday people do extraordinary things. This is the spirit that shines in the work of the Red Cross.”

Williams made the 2.5 mile climb to support Hope 365, a grass roots campaign where supporters pledge to raise funds for the American Red Cross of Riverside County. He also wanted to test his resolve by proving to others his ability to accomplish things he did as a younger man.  

When Williams reached the summit, a beautiful panoramic view of the California desert awaited him.   Besides fulfilling a personal endeavor, he raised funds and awareness for the Red Cross. Along the journey, the 30-year public safety veteran reflected how the Red Cross has presented him many opportunities to help people in need.

Responding to Residential Fires

Williams serves as a Red Cross DAT Captain and Chapter Duty Officer for Riverside County. He sees the work of the DAT, particularly during residential fires, as “curb service.”

“We provide comfort and hope to families sitting on the curb in front of the ruins of their burnt out homes,” said Williams. “As volunteers, we sincerely care for those who have lost everything and lift them up off the curb.”

From offering hugs, comfort kits and a place to stay for the night, the work of the DAT is completely people-focused. This high level of compassion in a crisis has always made a deep impression on Williams who began serving the Red Cross as a disaster relief volunteer during Hurricane Katrina. Seeing this major disaster unfold on the news impacted him to the point where he had to do something.

Thanks to the support of donors and community partners, Williams and other DAT volunteers were able to assist more than 582 families who experienced residential fires and other disasters in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in fiscal year 2012.

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Children’s Safety Festival

Earlier this month, the parking area of the American Red Cross offices in Santa Ana briefly became a holiday festival for families in need. Approximately 1,000 guests received toys, holiday stockings and books along with Red Cross disaster kits. NearlyPicture 094 400 youth from 40 Red Cross Clubs throughout the region collected close to 1,200 toys. They also created and managed more than 40 activity booths.

Children and parents alike gained valuable information from exhibits such as the Red Cross Preparedness Puppet Show, Edison and Electrical Safety, bike safety, Quake Cottage, disaster preparedness and earthquake drills, compression CPR training and a disaster kit scavenger hunt. They also enjoyed time with the local Orange County Fire Authority firefighters, refreshments from Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteers and holiday carols by Red Cross Emergency Services members.

Youth from the Red Cross Clubs were supported by staff and volunteers from Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties along with AmeriCorps members. Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides also helped distribute children’s books with the team from Think Together.  Red Cross partners who contributed to the success of this annual event included Circle K, Disneyland, Edison International, Emulex, National Charity League, Orange County Fire Authority, Pacific Life, Printronix, Think Together and Westbound Communications.

Children Make Their Compassion Known

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the innovative fund-raiser, Team Kids LemonAID Restore America, is mobilizing boys and girls across the country to raise support for American Red Cross disaster relief operations. With homemade lemonade stands and an unbridled enthusiasm to help those in need, the children have an opportunity to exercise generosity through their own entrepreneurial endeavors.  From now until December 31, 2012, 100 percent of the proceeds from this youth-driven effort will be donated to the American Red Cross for relief efforts.

“Through Team Kids LemonAID, we allow children to become a part of the solution,” said Julie Hudash, Founder and CEO of Team Kids headquartered in Irvine, Calif. “We provide the tools for a child to experience the joy of philanthropy and demonstrate their sincere passion to help others.”

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Team Kids launched LemonAID with the help from the Orange County Fire Authority, Irvine Police Department and Irvine Unified School District. Inspired and challenged to help the victims of Katrina, 1,200 children in Irvine hosted 224 independent lemonade stands, which together raised almost $12,000 in two days. Since then, children with their tiny lemonade stands have raised more than $90,000 in support for American Red Cross relief operations helping the victims of California wildfires and earthquakes in both Haiti and Japan.

“I enjoy motivating children to make a difference as contributing members of the community,” said Jamie “Doc” Havig, Program Director of Team Kids and former Special Ops Marine Corps Medic. “When taking ownership of their own lemonade stand, they experience the personal fulfillment that comes from helping people during a major disaster.”

Huntington Beach Resort Rallies to Help Disaster Relief

Staff and Guests Extend Compassion

Moved by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, the staff of The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel located in Huntington Beach, organized a small fundraiser for visitors, guests, vendors and employees to show their support American Red Cross disaster relief efforts.

“As an organization, we made it easy for our associates and guests to help people suffering in the aftermath of the disaster,” said JD Shafer, General Manager of The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel. “Everyone came together as a community for this simple fundraiser and shared in the desire to give and make a difference.”

The Waterfront Beach Resort has a history of supporting the American Red Cross from raising funds to help earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan to locally participating in annual blood drives. Seeing the destructive forces of Superstorm Sandy in the news, the management knew immediately the American Red Cross would effectively represent their heart to help alleviate the suffering.

“Being on the coast, we understand that a similar disaster could happen to us and wanted to extend compassion to our friends back east,” said Shafer. “The employees feel good  from doing their small part in contributing to the relief efforts and providing our guests an easy and fun way to help people in need.”