2007-03-09 / Columnists

Cross Currents

March Is Red Cross Month: And The ARC Is Here For Rockaway Every Month Of The Year
Commentary By Joan A. Foley Director, Queens Chapter American Red Cross

JOAN A.FOLEY 
JOAN A.FOLEY Joan A. Foley is director of the American Red Cross in Greater New York-Queens (138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood). To learn about classes, volunteer opportunities and how to support programs in the Rockaways, call 718-558-0053 or email crosscurrents@nyredcross.org. More information about the Red Cross can be found at www.nyredcross.org .

Welcome to a new month that we all hope will see temperatures rise to get us on our way to spring. Before we get that far, though, I ask that you join me to acknowledge March as Red Cross Month.

The designation originally began more than 60 years ago to help the American Red Cross gain exposure and celebrate its successes in serving communities across the country. Back then, the organization raised funds spontaneously when people learned about catastrophic events.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson commanded the American Red Cross to raise funds to support its aid to the military and civilians affected by war. During World War II, a War Fund campaign raised $66 million in just a few months.

In 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the entire month of March "Red Cross Month." Following the declaration, the American Red Cross requested $125 million (the largest sum ever requested in one campaign by any American organization) and raised $146 million. President Roosevelt claimed that it was "the greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history."

In the spirit of Red Cross Month, we ask that you consider making a donation and becoming a trained volunteer. Visit us at the Queens office (138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood), call us at 718-558-0053, or email us at crosscurrents@ nyredcross.org.

ASSISTING 42 ROCKAWAY

FAMILIES AFTER FIRE

The Red Cross responded quickly to the six-alarm fire that drove 129 residents, including 46 children, from their six-story apartment house (1056 Neilson Street) in The Rockaways and into the bitter cold during the early morning hours of Sunday, February 4. More than 25 Red Cross employees and volunteers opened a reception center for them in the gymnasium of Brian Piccolo Middle School (MS 53) to provide a warm, safe and secure location.

We served hot and cold drinks and food, and also provided health and mental health services. Many families were provided with accommodations for several days at area hotels. We also assisted them with the paperwork and other details that had to be completed for city agencies to provide temporary housing. Our chapter provided residents with more than $20,000 in assistance that included the hotel rooms and debit cards for food, clothing and other emergency supplies.

New York City Council Member James Sanders, Jr., who represents the 31st Council District in which the fire occurred, visited MS 53 to meet with residents and Red Cross relief workers. "We are working with the Red Cross to get the things that we need for our community," he assured the residents.

"We really appreciate the Red Cross being here."

ARE YOU PREPARED?

Our free emergency preparedness programs - Prepare New York and Ready New York - in cooperation with the New York City Office of Emergency Management and other city agencies help residents create emergency plans and pull together emergency supply kits. The Red Cross will come to your church, senior center, or other location for your organization to help your members prepare for emergencies such a fires, flooding and storms. Contact us at the Queens office to learn more and to schedule a presentation.

SPOTLIGHT CLASSES/EVENTS FOR MARCH

Red Cross CPR, first aid and other courses are offered frequently on weekdays, evenings, and weekends. Learn more about classes by calling 1-877-RED-CROSS (1-877-733-2767). The course catalog, schedule and online registration are available at www.nyredcross.org.

Among the upcoming classes offered at the Queens Red Cross location in Briarwood:

Standard first aid: Friday, March 9, 2:30-6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, March 27, 6-10 p.m. Cost is $60.

CPR/AED for the professional rescuer: Saturday, March 31, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Cost is $110.

If you are a nurse, lifeguard, flight attendant, fire-fighter, law enforcement specialist, EMS professional, part of a business or industry response team, or anyone else with a job-related duty to respond in an emergency, this course was created with you in mind. This is the most comprehensive CPR course offered at the American Red Cross in Greater New York.

POISON PREVENTION TIPS

The Red Cross is known for addressing fire safety and helping train people to help those who may suffer injuries or heart attacks. Poison prevention is another significant issue in our communities. Medications and common household items can cause serious illness and can be fatal. Here are some tips to protect your family, especially your children.

Buy child-resistant packaging when purchasing medicine at your pharmacy. Even if you do not have children at home, they may come to visit and accidentally become poisoned while exploring your home.

Do not leave loose pills lying around anywhere. Keep medicine and household cleaning products in a secure location. Use locks if necessary.

Never refer to medicine as "candy" and avoid taking medicine in front of children.

Keep all medicines and household chemicals in their original containers. Do not use cups or soft drinking bottles to store substances other than potable water or soft drinks. Children have been poisoned by lighter fluid that was stored in soft drink bottles by the barbecue.

When taking medicine, always make sure to read the label. Wear your reading glasses and turn the light on at night to make it easier to read labels.

Dispose of old or unneeded medicine down the drain or the toilet.

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