Across the United States, March is recognized as American Red Cross Month. As one of this community's best known humanitarian organizations, the Augusta Red Cross has been at the forefront of helping Americans prevent, prepare for and respond to large and small disasters since 1917. Communities in 11 counties depend on the Augusta Red Cross in times of need and the Red Cross depends on the support of the American people to achieve its mission.
American Red Cross Month seems like a perfect time to recognize the many volunteers and donors who demonstrate compassion and generosity by supporting the Augusta Red Cross.
We call them our "Heroes," and this year we are honoring them with a celebration called Paint the Town Red. This project has given new meaning to the "red light district," as we light the community with red lights each night during March.
Thanks to the Augusta Coca Cola Bottling Co., Georgia Bank and Trust Co., Georgia Power Co. and ESi , buildings throughout the community shine brightly each night as a reminder of the important work that Red Cross volunteers do. Paint the Town Red is just one of many ways that we salute community groups and volunteers who have joined the Red Cross Heroes campaign to help raise awareness and funds to support local disaster services.
The Augusta Red Cross has a rich history. Over the years, thousands of local citizens have responded to the Red Cross call for help. Red Cross volunteers are a diverse group that includes 200 middle- and high-school students. The common denominator seems to be compassion because these volunteers make "love" an action verb. When a house fire or a tornado occurs they respond around the clock. They serve as board members, instructors, disaster action team members and office administrators. They help with special events and fund-raisers. They spend Veteran's Day pinning red carnations on those who bravely served our country. They are paid with the hugs and words of appreciation that they receive.
American Red Cross Month seems like a fitting time to pass the appreciation expressed by so many to the volunteers and donors who deserve it. Without your help and your charitable donations, we could not do our work. "Thank you" seems like too small of a phrase to express appreciation to the many people who give so much. So I will use the words that many say when they see a Red Cross volunteer approaching: God bless you!
Jo Endres Maypole
(The writer is executive director of the American Red Cross of Augusta.)