Whether it’s down the street or across the country, when disaster strikes it’s a given the American Red Cross will be on the scene to offer aid.

This year, volunteers have trekked from the American Red Cross Southeastern Chapter with supplies to offer comfort to victims of hurricanes, fires and even mass the casualty shooting that occurred in Las Vegas this fall. The Red Cross also provides much-needed aid closer to home.

The Southeastern Colorado chapter encompasses 18 counties where windstorms and house fires account for the majority of assistance. This is supplied by the Red Cross in the form of vouchers for temporary housing, clothing, medical needs and more.

Last March, Tiffany Sallee-Ray’s house caught fire forcing her husband and three children out of their family home in the Widefield-Security area.

Sallee-Ray said a representative from the local branch was on the scene almost immediately with gift cards to help the family buy goods to meet immediate needs, such as clothing and toothbrushes. They were also provided a two-night stay at an area hotel.

“I’m grateful to having somebody there to help and who cared,” Sallee-Ray said. “It was freezing that night and she helped me get to where I needed to be. They know what to do in those situations.”

For example, Sallee-Ray said the volunteer raised concern about freezing pipes. “We weren’t thinking about that,” Sallee-Ray said. “I never would have thought about needing to keep the pipes from freezing,” she added.

Silvia Gregory shared a similar experience following the October fire in the apartment complex in which she was living.

“The Red Cross was fantastic,” she said. “They were the easiest part of the whole ordeal for us. They helped with what we needed, with the insurance. They were great.”

Although Gregory’s apartment only sustained smoke damage, the complex was deemed uninhabitable by the Fire Department. “There was no way we could stay,” she said.

“They were there for us. They just showed up and helped us out,” she explained. The residents of six apartments were impacted and all were provided services by the Red Cross, Gregory said.

“They asked what we needed, clothing, blankets, whatever,” she said. She was given a gift card to purchase necessities. Since she was able to stay with her daughter, she didn’t require a temporary housing voucher.

“One of the renters didn’t have insurance,” Gregory said. “The Red Cross helped them by starting a drive to collect items for them. Really, they offered us this, this and this to make it easier for us to deal with that ordeal.”

“It’s amazing they were there for us since we knew so many others were in Texas and Florida helping people there,” she said. “The Red Cross is the best!”

The American Red Cross was established in 1881 and in 1900 received its congressional charter to provide disaster relief in the United States and around the world. It also was mandated to provide services to the U.S. armed forces and troops’ families in times of need. Additionally, the Red Cross offers a variety of courses ranging from first-aid training to swimming, from basic life support training to emergency planning and preparedness. It also regularly sponsors blood drives.

“They know what to do about those little things you don’t think about,” Sallee-Ray said. “It was very comforting.”

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