Red Cross Needing Volunteers
The American Red Cross is urgently looking for volunteers in our region.
It says our bitter cold winter is increasing the demand for disaster services.
Red Cross volunteers are always there, but there have been so many house fires this winter that they're putting out a call for more to sign up.
House fires have become part of the story of this winter's frigid temperatures, many starting with people trying to stay warm with wood or fuels like kerosene or propane.
Amanda Edwards, American Red Cross, "in the last week across the region we've responded to 33 disasters, primarily house fires which is more than double what we normally respond to this time of year."
The American Red Cross of the Western Carolinas provides disaster volunteers to upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina.
In the last week alone, "we've assisted 70 adults and 42 children."
Amanda Edwards says the unusual cold is stretching their volunteers, who make up 95 percent of their workforce and she says more are urgently needed.
To get the numbers up, the Red Cross is offering six volunteer orientations across the region.
She says they'll learn how to talk to a family, at a tough time and how to pay attention to every day details, "making sure they have those seasonal winter garments of coats and hats and gloves to stay warm."
A place to stay and financial assistance, "I like to say we bridge the gap between the immediate need and their long term insurance; what the insurance can help them do."
Waynesville's Fire Chief Joey Webb urges folks to sign up, "retired folks or young people that just want to give back to the community."
Webb says it's been a tough winter for fires, and it's not over yet, "and usually we see our snow late in this time of year. So there's an urgent need out there for volunteers and people to step up and help your neighbor."
Red Cross volunteer orientations begin this Thursday and continue though next month.
Orientations are held from 6-8 pm and will be offered at Red Cross community offices on the following dates:
Thursday, February 6
115 Whitehall Road
Thursday, February 13
940 Grove Road
Wednesday, February 19
100 Edgewood Road
Thursday, March 6
224 East Main Street
Tuesday, March 11
131 East Main Street
Thursday, March 20
940 Grove Road
Pre-registration is required and may be completed online here.