When a tsunami hit Sri Lanka five years ago, 65-year-old Piyasili Palliyaguru survived a nine-foot surge by clinging to her home’s rafters. In the months and years following the tsunami, the American Red Cross helped people rebuild their lives and also supported Palliyaguru and her neighbors in forming a disaster management committee and training emergency response teams to be better prepared for future flooding and landslides.
In the time it takes you to read this short article, about 750 families will be helped by the Red Cross. Thanks to the support of people like you, the Red Cross provided relief to Australian families devastated by wildfires that destroyed 1,000 homes and has assisted 500,000 displaced Colombians who fled to safer areas to avoid the ongoing civil conflict. Last year, we helped protect 118 million people around the world against measles, malaria, or HIV/AIDS. Over the past few weeks alone we responded to two earthquakes in Indonesia and to devastating flooding in El Salvador, which left scores dead and missing.
Just as the Internet has opened up new international markets to small businesses, it has made us all realize we reside in a global community and have global responsibilities. Whether you’re interested in community services, international services, or disaster services, the Red Cross offers many ways to use your skills and interests to help others around the world. Here are just a few of the many ways you can make an impact around the globe:
Host an Event or Blood Drive. Small businesses have always been important partners of the Red Cross, hosting fund-raising events and donating their facilities for use in our blood drives. Small businesses are a big reason that some 21,000 times a day people are able to donate blood through the Red Cross, giving the gift of life. To see how you can take part, contact your local chapter. Remember, when you support us locally, you are also supporting us internationally.
Match Your Skills to Volunteer Needs. Individual Red Cross chapters advertise needs for specific volunteer skills like graphic designers or event planners. You can search for needs in your area here. We have many other individual and group volunteer projects, or you can approach us with your own ideas. FedEx, for example, donates its expertise in moving Red Cross equipment quickly in response to emergencies, and also provides extensive training for our Regional Disaster Response Teams (RDRTs) in East Africa. The skills and people that made your small business a success can make a huge impact in helping others around the world.
Spread the Word. Many of our best advocates are those people and small businesses to help to spread the word of our efforts and needs. For example, a small chain of convenience stores in Southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey has its cashiers ask customers at checkout if they want to donate to the Red Cross. The point-of-sale materials also allow people to volunteer. Your local chapter can talk to you about ways you can help promote our efforts, some as simple as putting out a donation canister.
Target Your Giving. In this season of hope and in these tough economic times, people want their gifts to really matter, and the Red Cross campaign has launched a new holiday campaign that offers a way for people to give a gift that can save the day for those in need. Through an online catalog, people can make a donation that could provide food and shelter for a disaster victim for a day; a military comfort kit with a robe, phone card and other supplies for a wounded warrior; or a month of basic necessities for a family in another country who lost everything in a disaster.
Our 2009 Holiday Gift Catalog allows you to make a small donation that has a big impact around the world. For example:
- $25 provides 25 life-saving vaccinations.
- $75 buys a bicycle that allows a Red Cross volunteer to travel roads that are impassable by car or truck and educate families about disease prevention.
- $100 translates into a month of basic supplies – a cooking set, toilet paper, safe water, and a warm blanket – for a family struggling to survive after they have lost everything.
To learn how you can contribute to such acts of global compassion, check out the Holiday Gift Catalog. You can also help by linking your web site to the catalog.
Small business owners understand the need to be focused and efficient. At the Red Cross, we’re proud of the fact that 91 percent of the money we collect goes back into our charitable efforts. If you want to take actions and make donations that have a direct impact on assisting people in need around the world, the Red Cross would welcome your support.
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