Asheville American Red Cross
By Natalie Navi and Kira Nestle
The Asheville chapter of the Red Cross is the regional chapter, serving 16 counties throughout North Carolina. The Red Cross has four community chapters in Henderson County, Haywood County, Transylvania County and Polk County. All of the community chapters report to the Asheville chapter.
The Red Cross is an organization that serves the public. Steve Dykes, director of the Asheville chapter, describes the work of the Red Cross in ABCD form.
“A” stands for armed forces
The Red Cross works with servicemen and their families providing emergency communication to soldiers who are deployed and cannot be reached by their families. The Red Cross also provides financial assistance to families who may need help while their soldier is away.
“B” stands for blood
The Red Cross collects and distributes blood from volunteers from all around North Carolina. Every day, at least 1,600 pints of blood are needed to meet the needs of one hospital alone. The Red Cross holds blood drives all over North Carolina and takes blood at their permanent locations.
“C” stands for classes
The Red Cross offers classes for health and safety and emergency preparation. They provide training in CPR, babysitting, wilderness experience, life guarding and a variety of other safety programs.
“D” stands for disaster assistance
The Red Cross helps assist families who have had house fires and people affected by rock slides, tornadoes and other natural disasters. They provide families with money to help get them back on their feet, along with a place to stay and clothing, after a disaster . The Red Cross also opens emergency shelters when there are natural disasters that displace families from their homes. This past winter alone, 33 emergency shelters were opened housing over 2,000 people. 4,000 warm meals were served.
92 percent of the work done by the Red Cross is done by volunteers. Therefore, fundraisers are key to the success of the Red Cross. This year, $150,000 was raised for Haiti relief without donors being asked. Over $160 million was raised for Haiti relief. $40 million of that total was raised by text messaging alone. All of the money was sent directly to Haiti.
Opportunities for WCU students
WCU students who volunteer at the Red Cross can serve families and individuals in Jackson County through blood services, disaster relief and preparedness education, services to military family members in crisis, health and safety education, office assistance, marketing and program development, and youth leadership.
The Asheville chapter of the Red Cross holds 18 regular employees. The rest of the help is all by volunteers. One blood drive takes over 100 people to organize and run, and there are two blood drives held every day in North Carolina. Western Carolina University students alone provide 250 pints of blood at each blood drive held on the WCU Campus.