Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

Every year people of all ages start the year off with a resolution. Some want to get fit, others want to improve on their cooking. I am going to help the Red Cross!

So how can I help? The options are many! I could take a class, donate blood, volunteer, give - or all of the above. I’m not sure which to pick, so I’ll pick them all. Which will you choose? Pairing up your resolution with one of these Red Cross resolutions is the best way to go, really. Stay tuned to learn how long it takes me to complete my new year’s resolution. Feel free to share your resolution (including your Red Cross resolution) and may your year be full of joy.

Happy New Year!

-Amerit Del Rio is a volunteer at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Be like Vicky and Briana…

If you don’t get the reference that’s OK... That just means you probably have more to do than watch reality TV like the Real Housewives of Orange County. You may want to tune in tomorrow though since two of the main cast members, Vicki Gunvalson and daughter Briana, will be saving lives! The pair will be shown tomorrow donating blood at the Red Cross Laguna Hills donor center. The episode is expected to air December 30 on the Bravo Network and will feature both ladies eagerly wanting to donate blood, only to find out that one is not eligible. The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m./9:00 p.m. CT.

Closer to home…we’re holding blood drives today and tomorrow. During the holidays fewer people donate blood but the need doesn’t diminish. People need blood every day in our community and we need you to help! One blood donation can save up to three lives!

Upcoming Blood Drives
Romeoville: Dec. 30, 3 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Hillside: Dec. 29, 3 p.m.- 7 p.m.
Arlington Heights: Dec. 30, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. (Presenting donors at Arlington Heights will receive a $10.00 Target gift card while supplies last.)
To sign up, visit

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
Including a smoke alarm to prevent any scares,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Traveling safely with a shovel and flares.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of red crosses danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
Remembering always the Red Cross does care.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and seven tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
For there was not a doubt he was always prepared.
He carried a Disaster Supply Kit,
All should buy one and share.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Cook! now, DuPage! now, Kendall and McHenry!
On, Kane! on Lake! on, Will all together!
The Red Cross serves you no matter the weather,
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!
"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
Many goodies and presents for all to enjoy.
Since they’re from the Red Cross, all are filled, with laughter and joy.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
Being cautious and alert, because safety comes first.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He was all dressed in red like the loyal Red Cross.
That means he’s a good one, there for any cause.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Holidays to all, and to all a safe-night."
-Amerit Del Rio is a volunteer at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Avoid Becoming an Injured, Holiday-Sweater-Clad Cliché

If you watch a lot of holiday movies, especially the funny kind, you know that this season can be filled with mishaps. As safety experts, the staff at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago would like to advise you with a few ways to avoid becoming an injured, holiday-sweater-clad cliché—even if you are paying homage to your favorite flicks.

Home Alone—The feisty little boy in this flick is inadvertently left alone during the holidays, fending for himself against a pair of wily robbers. One might marvel at 8-year-old Kevin’s ability to take care of himself, and you’re right to wonder. Though it make for hilarity, kids that young shouldn’t be left alone without a babysitter. Red-Cross-trained babysitters known a few tips that would save Kevin some trouble, even if they would ruin the plot:
  • Red Cross babysitters learn to call 911 if they hear or see something that they can’t handle without adult supervision. Our course is designed for babysitters ages 11 and older.
  • Our students also learn Child and Infant First Aid, which would have come in handy salving the wounds of those unfortunate robbers.
  • Lots of Kevin’s antics stem from boredom. Our babysitters learn how to plan activities that are age-appropriate and safe. Learn more about our babysitting classes here.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation—Clark Griswold is feeling extremely festive when he decks out his family’s home in zillions and zillions of decorative lights. In the process of putting up the lights, he falls off the roof. Ouch. He also strings together so many lights that he blows every fuse in the house. “Make sure you’re not attaching every single strand of lights to the same outlet,” said David Zielinski, Red Cross preparedness instructor. Indeed, no more than three strands of lights should be linked together. Other decorating tips: (Photo by slworking)

  • Make sure that any light strings or other decorations are in good condition and follow manufacturer's instructions for their use. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords.
  • Always unplug holiday lights (including tree lights) before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Place decorations at least three feet away from fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.

Meet the Parents—What doesn’t Greg do wrong when he meets his fiancé Pam’s parents for the first time over the holidays? He loses the family cat, Jinxie, and inadvertently sets the back yard ablaze. If Greg had thought ahead, he could have won over Pam’s cat-crazy dad by giving him a Pet CPR course as a gift. Red Cross Cat and Dog CPR and First Aid courses teach owners how to take care of their furry friends during emergencies like heat exhaustion or choking. We also sell quick reference guides for Pet CPR and First Aid.

Can you think of other holiday film bumbles that could use our safety tips? Comment with suggestions! We’d love to tackle them here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I find that during the holiday season, everything is just a little more sentimental, and I find myself thinking about the loved ones who have made my life a little bit sweeter. This got me thinking about how the Red Cross continues to make people's lives a little bit sweeter through all its great work.

The Red Cross means so much to so many.
For the woman who saved her brother’s life after her fell from a heart attack, or the man who safely got his family out of their burning home, the Red Cross is a source of health and safety education and preparedness training. For the young woman who lost everything in a fire, the Red Cross is a source of hope and deliverance from the question of “what happens next?” For the father who needs to get an important message to his son in the military, the Red Cross is a conduit of communication. For the young boy who needed a blood transfusion after a major car accident, the Red Cross is a source of life.

The Red Cross has touched the lives of so many in some special way. This holiday season, let's remember the essential, life-saving work of this great organization by making a gift to the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. Your gift can help our chapter bring relief to those in need, help us teach people to prevent and prepare for emergencies, and so much more. Every little bit counts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hey Drivers, This is Only the First Snow. Get Ready.

(Psst! Read on to learn how to win a free hand-crank emergency radio!)

Yes Chicago, it’s wintertime. Maybe it’s not officially winter yet, but the snow has fallen, the driving conditions were horrendous yesterday, and it’s definitely time for the ugly boots.

So, how do you stay safe and prepared while driving through the snow? The Red Cross has some tips for a safe ride. If there’s a winter storm warning, we advise that you avoid traveling by car, but if you must:
  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk. We have a nifty one for sale here.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Check out more tips here, including what to do if you get stranded in your car in the cold.

What sort of winter safety gear do you carry (either in your car or in your bag)? Leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win a hand-crank emergency radio! The contest will end at 5 p.m. today. Make sure to sign in or include an email when you comment, so we know how to reach you!)

Photo by Seth Anderson (aka swanskalot).

Friday, December 12, 2008

iGoogle Themes for a Cause

I’m a big fan of iGoogle. It’s pretty much my internet life all rolled into one screen. I’ve got news that interests me, my RSS feeds, my mail, and a cool new theme for my page.

What cool new theme is available now? Well, it’s a Red Cross one! With this theme, you get a slick gray banner across the top of your page with rotating images of people the Red Cross helps.

There are only 1,268 Red Cross theme users on iGoogle. Let’s increase the amount of users of this new theme for a cause. Choose the Red Cross iGoogle theme at Google!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Song with Proceeds Donated to the Red Cross

It’s the holiday season. We’re all baking, shopping, and trudging through the snow. Thanks to Chicago’s crazy winter weather, we’re doing all these holiday activities while pretty cold. Despite all this, there’s usually some great holiday music playing in the background of our snowy lives. Today, a new Christmas song was released and should be immediately added to your holiday playlist!

“Another Christmas” is the first single by Michael Johns, a former top ten finalist on this year’s American Idol. Not only is this song great but, 50% of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross and the other half to ALS. On his MySpace blog, Johns dedicated the song to all troops serving abroad this holiday and the importance of the Red Cross. He describes “Another Christmas” as “a song about being away from loved ones and telling them you miss them and love them.”

Download “Another Christmas” on Amazon or iTunes.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Job Searching?

Have you lost your job? I’ve been there and it can be a very scary time, especially around the holidays. The news is reporting that unemployment is up.
More people are going to be looking for jobs and finding ways to keep themselves busy while they search for another one.
We’ve got two ideas for you; volunteer and/or build new skills.
Volunteering will help you keep your skills fresh while you are searching for the perfect opportunity. Yes, actually, now that you asked we DO have opportunities here if people are interested in helping the Red Cross while keeping those skills up to date. A nice byproduct of volunteering is it also makes you feel really good.
Find out how to volunteer here.
Build your skills in your current field or another one that may be more stable. We offer training in CPR/First aid and other skills that may aid you in finding a job as these skills are required for many professions and may make your more marketable in certain fields. Interested? Check out this page for our course listings.

What day is December 13, 2008?

Have you ever thought about what would happen if the American Red Cross could not respond when disaster strikes?

If a hurricane hit or wildfires raged, and the Red Cross was not there to provide safe shelter, deliver food to affected families and first responders, or help people with their physical and mental health needs, could another organization fill our shoes?

Disasters change lives. You can too by supporting the National Day of Giving for the American Red Cross and helping the Red Cross raise $100 million for the Disaster Relief Fund on Saturday, December 13.

Here are ways you can help!
· Get your holiday shopping done at North River Side Park Mall and visit the Customer Service Gift Wrapping Station (10:00am-4:00pm) where Red Cross youth volunteers will wrap your purchases for a donation. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Disaster Relief Fund.
· On Facebook: Join the National Day of Giving for the American Red Cross Cause or Group. Share the Day of Giving URL you’re your friends.
· Donate to the Red Cross by going to or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-27677). You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 to the Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” (4483) to “2HELP” (24357).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Facebook Members Like Us!

We Won! Facebook Members Chose the American Red Cross as Their Favorite Charity!
With 18,582 supporting votes, the American Red Cross placed first among eight non-profit organizations in the Western Union Foundation’s Our World Gives campaign. This means that the Western Union Foundation will award the American Red Cross $50,000 in support of our life-saving mission. For more information,
This support is important but we need even more help to continue our work. We’re getting busy as the cold weather increases. Last month alone we helped nearly 450 people in Chicagoland after their homes were damaged by home fires. Yesterday in Chicagoland we helped 51 people.
We’re trying to raise $30 million in the next 30 days to reach our goal in our national Campaign for Disaster Relief. Watch a video about this
Click here to help today!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesdays Are For Flirting

Fess up. You’ve got nothing else going tomorrow at 6 p.m. Why not meet up with friends at Crimson Lounge for some cocktails, chit chat and (almost always) enough heavy hors d'oeuvres to call it dinner? It'll all be happening at Flirting for Disaster. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s Auxiliary Board and Society—a group of smart, fun, philanthropic people—plan these events, and all of the proceeds go to our chapter.

I convinced my friend Nicole to volunteer with me at a Flirting event once, and now she’s hooked. We’ll be there tomorrow mingling and selling raffle tickets (check out the list of prizes!), so come and say hello. You can learn more about the Flirting events here, or just show up tomorrow!

P.S. Though this is a great place to meet people, actual flirting is NOT required. Most people bring a friend or two to hang out, network and meet people. If you've got a Flirting story, we'd love to hear it! Did you make a job connection, or meet someone to watch the Bears games with? Let us know!