Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Holiday Season is Here!

I cannot believe that the holiday season began on Friday! I’m already excited for the family time, gifts, food, and cheer that go along with it. Did you start shopping yet? I am all about online shopping this year. The Greater Chicago chapter has an online store and we have a holiday sale! If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer for someone in your family, a babysitter, or your pet, check out the Red Cross first aid kits that are offered at 10% off during December and include free shipping. Visit our online store here.

While this holiday season will be a tough year for giving, you can help out the Red Cross of Greater Chicago by just doing your regular online shopping. GoodShop, a part of, allows you to pick a nonprofit to support before you shop online at popular retailers like Target, Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, and over 700 more stores. A percentage of your total purchase amount will be given to the charity you chose at no extra cost to you. Click on the image to the right to visit the GoodSearch site.

If you’re not a big online shopping fan, you can use, powered by Yahoo!, when you need to find something online. Every time you search, a penny is donated to the cause of your choice.

We’re listed on GoodSearch as “American Red Cross – Greater Chicago.” We’re all about the shopping and searching this year. Tell your friends and get the word out about the great benefits of GoodSearch!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving for the Red Cross

Yes! We should all be thankful for the Red Cross--just like fire fighters, we are rescuing people all the time. Yes, we rescue them from facing nowhere to lie down in safety after a fire or any other disaster, small and large. We just don't stop, ever.

Why am I thankful, personally?

After my first house fire, I stood alongside a family in the frigid night, all and kids in pajamas, helpless as their second story apartment smoldered. They lost everything, but their skins. There were hundreds more over the years. I went to wildfires where only the nails remained. To hurricanes where families continued to live in the smashed up hulls of their trailer homes. And what have I learned? Don't fuss over what you have, care about what you give.

It's the little ways in which I've changed which mean big things in my life. I went through four years living in San Francisco with three pieces of furniture. When I moved back to Chicago, my parents felt sorry for me and donated some of theirs. I never missed the furniture. It really doesn't matter. Through my Red Cross lens, I saw this all being gone in an instant.

Tomorrow and always, I give thanks for the privilege I have to help other people every day. And to know that my life is richer because of the Red Cross, even though, I'm back to having no furniture:)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Little Chefs Need Help to Stay Safe!

Let your kids help in the kitchen this Thanksgiving, but keep them safe from burns and cuts. Meet Isabella and her mom, Marina. Isa is quite the little helper (here she’s really just mixing that sugar around with her fingers) and her mom knows exactly how to keep her safe. She keeps her away from knives and makes sure the handles of pots and pans are turned inward.

Marina is a family physician, so she’s seen some nasty spills and injuries come out of kitchens. Keep your little ones away from hazards that pots, pans, ovens and knives can create. Read her recommendations here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don’t get burned in the kitchen this Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving my job is to make the pumpkin pies and I’ve done a pretty good job, well except for that one year I forgot to add sugar and made all the kids cry when they tasted my creation (true story). Perhaps my mind was on the next day’s early-morning bargain shopping, I don’t know for sure…but I do know it’s easy to get distracted, especially when family and football present themselves in your kitchen.
Cooking fires are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year according to the National Fire Protection Association so be careful!
We have all kind of tips-from what to do if someone is choking, to how to prevent kitchen fires and how to care for basic cooking related burns on our web site.
Check them out.

What’s your best Thanksgiving memory?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The cards are coming in. Want to see some?

Check out this cool image from The first holiday cards for heroes are coming in! If you'd like to send a card here's the address Holiday Mail for Heroes PO Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. Just make sure you get it to us by 12/10 so we have time to get it to our friends in the military. Complete details are available here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nature Unleashed. Check it out!

Right now some of our disaster volunteers are standing inside a tornado, well a simulated tornado just off Lakeshore Drive….but it’s still VERY cool. We have partnered with the Field Museum to place trained Red Cross disaster relief workers inside the Nature Unleashed exhibit to guide people around the exhibit. Many of these people have actually been to the disasters featured in the exhibit. Check it out and while you are there ask the Red Cross volunteer helping out to share some of their adventures. Check it out on WGN with Tom Skilling
I was with the Red Cross at two of the disasters featured in the exhibit: Hurricane Katrina and Greensburg, Kansas and I have to tell you the Field Museum did a great job making you feel like you were there.
We’re all familiar with Hurricane Katrina. Greensburg got less media attention but was just as devastating to those affected. In 2007, a small Kansas town was hit by a EF5 tornado that was 1.7 miles wide. 95% of the city was destroyed. Seeing this part of the exhibit really brought me back to what it was like to be there as that town began its healing process. While it was a sobering experience it was also really inspiring to see how resilient that town was and how they all came together to help each other out.
Greensburg ultimately decided to rebuild as an entirely green city. Planet Green did a television series about it
There are webisodes online if you want to check it out.
Have you ever seen the devastation from a tornado or hurricane up close? Where were you and how you would describe it?
Interested in visiting the exhibit? for more information.

Martha Carlos is a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Public Affairs team. She occasionally travels outside of the Chicagoland area to help with disaster relief and recovery efforts.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Mail for Heroes

Imagine being in a foreign country away from your family during the holidays or being a member of a family with one of their siblings overseas. Then, you receive a bright card covered in winter decorations thanking you for all that you or your family member does for our country. I know that would brighten my day!

This is the second year that the Red Cross is collecting holiday cards for the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign. The cards are sent to American service members, veterans, and their families in the USA and around the world. This year, we are partnering with Pitney Bowes. Our holiday campaign would not be possible without their generous donation of technology, resources and postage.

Our goal is to collect and distribute one million holiday cards! You can send cards by December 10, 2008 to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
Can’t think of an idea for a card? Print out a free card here.

For more information and guidelines about Holiday Mail for Heroes, visit the website.

Youth and The Red Cross

Did you know youth have been a part of the American Red Cross for over 70 years? The Junior Red Cross was founded in 1917 when World War I brought a partnership between the American Red Cross and youth. President Wilson announced the formation of the Junior Red Cross and it's 8 million members within the 1st year. By 1919, the membership had grown to 11 million. This was just the beginning of youth involvment within the Red Cross.

There are many opportunities for youth to become involved with the Red Cross. Youth can start a Red Cross Club at their school and complete service projects or host fundraisers. Service projects can be focused on any of our 5 Lines of Service including Blood Services, Health and Safety, Disaster Serives, International Services and Armed Forces Emergency Services. A few examples of service projects are hosting a blood drive at your school or in your community, collect comfort kit items for victims of disaster, become trained in our Kid Safety classes, sell pins for a dollar for the Measles Initiative and collect care package items for our men and woman serving over seas. These are just a few ways youth can become inspired to be part of the Red Cross team for life.

Youth can also get trained in Community Education programs such as Community Disaster Education, HIV/AIDS Education, First Aid and CPR. High school students can get trained to become peer educators and share their knowledge with their fellow students. Not only can students give back to their community but also have fun doing it!

For more information on youth opportunities call 312-729-6123.

Posted by Jackie Dempsey, Youth and Community Outreach Coordinator

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Veteran's Day Hero. Who's Yours?

This is Jo. She’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She’s also one of the funniest, sweetest, smartest people I know. We went to college together, and when we graduated she was stationed in Afghanistan for a year. I was lucky enough that she spent part of her two weeks off that year with me in Spain. Jo worked in Afghanistan to help improve lives—so that little girls could go to school and people could have infrastructure that we take for granted—roads and clean water.

Today, on Veteran’s Day, I’m thinking about Jo and the sacrifices she made to serve our country. I remember her stories from her respite and our visit in Madrid. She was witnessing horribly complex problems every day in Afghanistan, but she was never worn down. Her motivation was to help the Afghan peoplefrom the man who tailored her winter coat in the market to the children she met on the street. I’m sure she’d blush at the thought of me honoring her when so many others have given so much more, but Jo’s my hero. When I was ready to come back to Chicago after college to work and play in the big city, Jo listened to a calling to serve a greater cause. I respect and love her for that.

Who’s your military hero? The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago honors people every year who embody the heroic mission of the Red Cross. Jo is my own personal hero. Who do you want to honor on Veteran’s Day? Leave a comment here, or, better yet, nominate that person for our Heroes Breakfast!

Monday, November 10, 2008

National Youth Involvement Month

This month is National Youth Involvement Month at the Red Cross. During November, we’ll be celebrating all the youth who make an impact on the Red Cross through their great work.

The Red Cross is holding the Disaster Relief Youth Fundraising Challenge to celebrate this special month. The challenge is for youth programs and clubs to raise the most money through fundraising for the Disaster Relief Fund by December 31, 2008. The top three youth programs or clubs that raises the most money will win free registration to the National Youth Institute in Orlando, Florida, in April 2009. Is your program or club up to the challenge? Sign up your fundraiser by November 14 by clicking here.

Also, the “Our World Gives” contest on Facebook has 18 days left! “Our World Gives” is a simple and extremely helpful way that youth with Facebook profiles can help support the Red Cross. A $50,000 gift from the Western Union and the Western Union Foundation will be given to the nonprofit organization with the most votes. If you haven’t voted yet, you should vote for the American Red Cross! Currently, the American Red Cross is in the lead with 15,329 votes. Thanks for the votes!

For more information on youth involvement in the Red Cross, visit

Are you already working on the youth fundraising challenge? What are your plans and how can people in the Chicago area help you with your fundraiser? Share your thoughts by writing a comment on this post.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Obama Family Dog!

This week, America has elected a new president. It’s the first time in my lifetime that there will be kids in the White House! I remember reading when I was little about the families in the White House and their many pets. There have been a variety of dogs and cats as well as hamsters, birds, horses, alligators, a boa constrictor, and many more.

President-elect Barack Obama has already announced his two daughters are getting a dog. Regardless of what dog they choose, the family should think about becoming certified in pet CPR and first aid through a Red Cross class.

The Red Cross offers CPR and first aid classes for dogs and cats. The classes allow owners to learn how to care for their pets in the event of an emergency. The classes teach topics like how to perform CPR, what should be in a pet CPR kit, how to provide basic wound care, how to include your pet in your emergency evacuation plan, how to safely approach dogs and cats, and many more beneficial tips for taking care of your pets.

For more information about pet CPR and first aid classes, visit our website at and click “take a class.”

-Tim Carbonara is a Marketing & Communications intern at the Greater Chicago chapter of the Red Cross. He loves his little poodle terrier, Boo.

Monday, November 03, 2008

We're movie stars...but do you really KNOW us?

Imbed video

We’re movie stars…well sort of. We’re going to be in a new movie (OK well not really in a movie-kind of hard to fit all of us in one place) but the Red Cross is mentioned in a scene in the new release “What Just Happened” from Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson and starring Robert DeNiro and Bruce Willis (more on the movie later) and that’s pretty cool in itself.
I am excited about our name being in the movie.
It’s just well… sometimes I feel like as often as they hear our name many people just don’t really know us.
I worry that the message about what we do every day gets lost a bit because we do so many high profile things. Yes we collect blood (lots of it, ½ the nation’s blood supply) and respond to large national disasters. We do those things and they are very important but we are also working in your neighborhood all the time doing things like teaching new parents infant CPR and little kids how to prevent fires.
Much of what we do in the Chicago area is help people who lost their possessions in a home fire. We get called (three to four times daily) frequently in the middle of a cold, dark night-and asked to go out and help people who lost everything in a fire. We get out of our beds and go out and make sure they have basic things like blankets, shoes, food and a place to sleep. Things that at that point suddenly stop seeming so basic and can really add up to replace.
I know that being mentioned in a movie doesn’t necessarily tell people what we’re about. I’m just kind of hoping if they hear our name enough it might lead them to investigate us more.
So back to where this started…the film. If you're still here you might want to know what it's about. The web site What Just Happened says that the film depicts two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer (DeNiro) who is having a rough time trying to get his new picture made with a difficult actor (Willis).

Martha Carlos likes DeNiro (who doesn’t?) and will probably see the movie. She’s sure to jab her husband or whoever happens to be sitting next to her when the Red Cross part comes on because she’s geeky like that.