The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 7, 2013

American Red Cross has earned region’s support

— The city of Johnstown and the American Red Cross have had a long and close working relationship dating to the late 1800s, one that began not long after the Red Cross’ 1881 founding.

It would be very appropriate and meaningful for area residents to in some way help this wonderful organization during March as it celebrates Red Cross Month.

The Great Flood of 1889 occurred on May 31 and in practically no time, Red Cross co-founder Clara Barton and her disaster team were on scene. It was the first major relief effort handled by the new organization as support came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries.

“March is a time to think of those individuals who help all of us here in Somerset and Cambria counties by giving their time to help their neighbors,” Colleen Sherman, executive director of the Keystone Chapter, said.

“We want to thank our heroes during Red Cross Month – our volunteers, blood donors, class takers and financial supporters who help us assist those in need.”

The Keystone Chapter – the disaster unit – and the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region are partnering for a downtown Stone Bridge light-up event from 7 to 9 p.m. through Sunday. The red and white lights will commemorate the organization’s several-month-long effort helping ’89 flood victims.

Both units have offices in Richland Township.

The Keystone Chapter is part of the 25-county Western Pennsylvania Region. It serves more than 220,000 people in Cambria and Somerset counties. Its mission statement says it “prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

It responds to some 50 local emergencies, provides more than 160 services to military families and trains more than 1,500 people in lifesaving skills on a yearly basis, Sherman said.

The Greater Alleghenies region’s offices serve blood donors, hospitals, patients and sponsors in 100 counties in parts of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

It also employs a lot of area people.

How can area residents help out during March – and all year long?

“Develop a preparedness plan for their household, become a Red Cross volunteer, give blood, or take a Red Cross class, just to name a few,” Sherman said.

Donors can call the Jari Drive office to make an appointment. Also on tap over the next several days are blood drives: Today, Somerset Area High School; Friday, The Galleria mall and Red Cross donor center; Saturday, St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Somerset; and Monday, St. Demetrius Catholic Church, Gallitzin.

Giving blood is easy and takes less than an hour of your time. Its benefits for others are immeasurable.

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