Red Cross looking for heroes

Published 7:18 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Even those who help others need help sometimes.

The American Red Cross is looking to start a fund raising event with the help of local volunteers who would be deemed “heroes” in their eyes.

The Red Cross is asking for about 10 local people to be chair members who will recruit the volunteers, said Bill Brent, American Red Cross executive director for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter. The volunteers will be the ones who raise the money, which will be used to keep a Red Cross representative in Pearl River County.

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Dickie Roberts with the Red Cross said the money can be raised anyway the volunteers see fit, as long as it is legal. The Red Cross plans to keep the fund raising time frame short while still raising enough money to support a representative in the area for at least a year, if not longer. Roberts said the organization usually tries for a minimum amount of $20,000, but if more money is raised it will ensure a representative is in the area longer.

The effort will try to identify about 20 to 25 volunteers who will help to raise the money any way they see fit. The effort is to get enough funding in the area to keep a American Red Cross representative in the area in case of any emergency.

“There may be something else other than another hurricane,” Roberts said.

Events such as these may become yearly events to keep the funding level up and a representative in the area.

While most people do not have large amounts of money they can offer to the Red Cross, this program will give people the opportunity to donate small amounts that can be used for the purpose and they can help raise funds as well.

“It’s a good opportunity for those people who can’t give $1,000 but want to help out,” Brent said.

Roberts said that in George County, where the Red Cross also is raising money, car dealerships, hospitals and even the electric company became involved in the effort. She said Pearl River County could try something such as that.

Currently, the Red Cross keeps an office at the Emergency Operations Center on Mississippi 26 in Poplarville on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for the continuing Hurricane Katrina recovery effort.

“The recovery process is not going to end any time soon. We’re looking at another two to five years before we are where we need to be,” Brent said.

Pam Cross with Life Resource Center said that access to the Red Cross has been a valuable resource. In order for that resource to continue to be available in Pearl River County, the organization needs funding.

The tentative plan is to have the kickoff for the event on Saturday, May 19. The chair people who volunteer to recruit the “hero” volunteers and the “heroes” have plenty of work to do because there will need to be at least two weeks of planning before the fund raising can begin.

Picayune Mayor Greg Mitchell suggested that some people could conduct boot drives as in the past to raise some money. Roberts also displayed little cards with barcodes to be used by commercial locations to raise money.