The American Red Cross at the national level provides a lot of necessary and needed services to those in need of training or who have suffered loss in time of disaster. The quasi-government agency also has a penchant for shooting itself in the foot when it comes to public relations.

Some on the Plateau do not realize that the Cumberland County Chapter of the American Red Cross does more than organize periodic blood drives. The local chapter of volunteers is busy training and preparing for disaster responses and providing training for others.

Dr. May Wharton early on believed in the importance of Red Cross training for local residents and is believed to have been the person responsible for bringing a class on "Home Hygiene and Care for the Sick" for local residents in 1929.

March is American Red Cross Month and a local effort is under way to provide information to the public on the array of activities the local chapter performs.

Speakers are available to make presentations to local clubs and organizations, a poster contest is being planned, collection containers are placed in stores and businesses around the county, information is being published and aired locally and bucket brigades are being formed to raise funds for local efforts.

Those efforts include the servicing of 87 individuals in disaster and single family fires in the past year; the training of 221 people in disaster services; the training of 525 in health and safety; and 103 armed forces services calls.

These are all contacts and services provided by the nonprofit agency in Cumberland County. Training is in areas of CPR, first aid, lifeguard, baby sitting and blood borne pathogens.

A group of volunteers is scheduled to attend a training session Saturday that will qualify them as disaster team members with the skills to launch paperwork to aid victims of major disasters.

In addition, 2,744 blood donations were collected by the American Red Cross in Cumberland County.

Because Fentress County does not have a chapter of its own, efforts in that county are merged under the umbrella of the Cumberland County chapter.

The large number of house fires resulting in families needing emergency shelter and assistance getting back on their feet has left the local chapter's emergency fund drawn down.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the local effort should earmark their donations specifically for the Cumberland County chapter. Donations can be mailed to Cumberland County American Red Cross, 65 E. First St., Crossville, TN 38555, or can be hand delivered to the office located in the old First Baptist Church building.

Persons interested in volunteering their talents, skills and time to the local chapter can call 484-6348 for more information.

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Mike Moser is the editor of the Crossville Chronicle. His column is published on Fridays.

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