Category Archives: American Red Cross of Central Texas

Piper Brown Background

Puppy Love

By Mia Huey, Communications Intern, Fall 2013

Next Month, the Central Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross will launch a program known as Piper the Puppy.

The Red Cross is known for responding to disaster all over the world, providing shelter, food, and clothes. Now, we are also providing children and parents with some emotional stability in a time of chaos and confusion. We are providing them with a friend.

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Piper the Puppy first started in the Dallas/Fort Worth area as a Dallas Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leader’s project and was adopted by the North Texas Chapter of the Red Cross. For a $100 donation, we place the donor’s name on Piper’s paw. When disaster strikes, our Disaster Action Team places Piper in a child’s arms. Then, we contact the donor to let them know where and with whom their Piper has found a home. The donations from the Piper the Puppy program go toward services such as providing disaster relief and supporting our armed forces.

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Casey Hatfield, an AmeriCorps VISTA, joined the Red Cross of Central Texas this year to help get the Piper the Puppy program off the ground in our region.

“Disasters are usually sudden and terrifying for kids. Piper alleviates some of that suffering and provides a bit of added security in a chaotic time,” said Hatfield. “Piper lets kids know that their community cares and supports them. Piper tells them that they are not alone.”

boy with piper

In addition to giving children affected by disasters a new friend, we also provide them with some understanding about what has happened. Every Piper comes with a story: “You’re Loved…But this you knew.” Written by Phebe Phillips, in both English and Spanish, this story helps children to make sense of their situation as well as provide them with comfort and support.

Sometimes all it takes to ease the pain and confusion of a disaster is a friend to snuggle. Each and every Piper will find a home to watch over our littlest fighters and encourage resiliency during the recovery process.

You can sponsor a single puppy for $100 or a whole litter for $1,200. If you would like to donate to the Piper program, please call 512-928-4271 or visit us online.

Central Texas Prepares with Community Drill

Hurricane Sandy caused wreckage along the East Coast, damaging homes, businesses, and our sense of security. The Red Cross has deployed 17 volunteers and three emergency response trucks from Central Texas, to join more than 5,000 Red Cross workers and 320 emergency response trucks across the East Coast. Even without the talented and trained volunteers already deployed, the Red Cross held a very successful Disaster Service Center drill in Northwest Austin and launched the new pilot project, Resilient from the Heart, to help prepare our community for whatever disaster we might face here.

The Disaster Service Center drill simulated the type of Disaster Service Center the Red Cross would open with partners after a disaster. Volunteers served as people who needed assistance, as disaster responders, as media and observers to find out where we are strong, and what we can improve.  Red Cross partners joined us to simulate their offered services and to explore how those services compliment each other.  Approximately 200 volunteers and partners made this drill a complete success.

View pictures from the drill on Facebook.

Resilient from the Heart will bring community partners together for the next year, to continue to simulate the ongoing challenges that could face our community during disaster recovery. This project will make our community stronger and better able to bounce back after disaster by establishing real, local relationships and exploring the strengths and weaknesses of our community before disaster strikes.

Red Cross worker Raymond Miller practices casework with a volunteer at the Disaster Service Center drill on November 3.

Red Cross Loves You, Love Your Red Cross

Happy Valentines Day! Remember that the Red Cross loves you! There is no river wide enough, no mountain high enough, no valley low enough to keep the American Red Cross from responding to families and individuals in need when disaster strikes (Diana Ross).

After a disaster, people are left without food, clothing, shelter, medicine or other basic needs. The American Red Cross is able to mobilize immediately, assess the needs of those affected by disaster, and provide for those needs because of the financial health of the Disaster Relief Fund. When compassionate donors make financial contributions to local Red Cross chapters or the national headquarters, the contribution is put into the Disaster Relief Fund to provide relief materials and help families and individuals recover. From $25 to $3,200, whatever you are able to give, every cent is appreciated and put to good use. Here are some of the ways the Red Cross may use Your Donation to help during a disaster:

- $25 provides fire blankets at an emergency shelter.
- $75 can cover a doctor’s visit for an individual injured during a disaster.
- $350 will provide emergency food and shelter for 25 people affected by a disaster for one day.
- $2,500 deploys one Emergency Response Truck and drivers (including housing and meals for drivers) to a disaster relief operation.
- $3,200 is the average yearly maintenance and fuel for one Emergency Response Truck.

The American Red Cross will be there to protect you; with an unselfish love they respect you. Just call the American Red Cross, and they’ll be there (Jackson 5). The Red Cross Loves You, Love Your Red Cross by Donating Today! Call 1-800-REDCROSS or click the Donate Now Button on the right-side of

Donate $10,000 by Saying Thanks

Our very own American Red Cross volunteer, Betty Hendrix, was named a Legend by RecognizeGood for 67 years of service to the American Red Cross. Today, Betty is being honored by the three-week long, “Say Thanks” Austin Event. Until February 3rd you can express your gratitude to Betty for her service and help the American Red Cross of Central Texas win $10,000 by logging onto http://www.saythanksaustin.com and voting for Betty!

RecognizeGood is a nonprofit organization centered in Austin that works to raise awareness of the good in our central Texas communities and businesses. To do this, RecognizeGood created a handful of programs benefitting local charities, including the Legends Program. The Legends Program is a monthly award system designed to recognize a community contributor, or Legend, who has performed exceptional acts of goodness or charity throughout their lifetimes. Then, at the end of each year, all of the Legends from that entire year are honored in the “Say Thanks” Austin Event. This event allows the community to express their gratitude by voting for one or more Legends and in turn, the Legend with the most “Say Thanks” votes gets to choose a nonprofit to receive a $10,000 Pay It Forward check from RecognizeGood.

Betty Hendrix deserves our gratitude and “Say Thanks” votes.

Since Betty first began volunteering for the American Red Cross in 1944, she has shown an unwavering commitment to volunteerism. In the 1940s there was a great need for volunteers to support the American troops of World War II, but even after the war, Betty continued serving on the front lines for the American Red Cross. Over the years, Betty’s involvement ranged from rolling bandages for soldiers to sitting on the board of directors of the American Red Cross of Central Texas. She also directed swimming and lifeguarding courses, taught international humanitarian law classes, and responded to countless disaster assignments such Hurricane Katrina and the floods in New Mexico. Thad Rosenfeld wrote on Betty’s recognition page for RecognizeGood, “Ask Betty why she worked so hard, for so long, for no money and she answers, ‘I love the Red Cross because we come together as a team when the need arises. It’s amazing what the Red Cross can pull together in 48 hours.’ And even more amazing what one dedicated woman can pull together in 65 years.”

Betty served for 67 years. It will only take you 2 minutes to get involved, log in and become part of the Legend. Vote for Betty!

What I’m Thankful For

After a nice Thanksgiving break, I wanted to take the time to write about the impact interning for the Central Texas chapter of the American Red Cross has had on me, and how thankful I am to have had this opportunity.
I am thankful for the hands-on experience I have been exposed to through this internship.
I am thankful for my supervisor and the rest of the Red Cross staff members that have welcomed me into their Red Cross family and have helped me learn the ins and outs of the organization.
I am thankful for all the generous volunteers and donors who are the reason why the American Red Cross is able to do so much and that I have had the opportunity to see this generosity make a difference in our community.
I am thankful for being a part of the Central Texas chapter and how being a part of this great organization reminds me how great it feels to give back.
What are you thankful this holiday season? 

More Thanksgving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving brings family and friends together to share a good meal, laughter and football. However, it can also bring unexpected health hazards like food poisoning and choking.
Food Poisoning
Eating undercooked turkey can be a health hazard. If thawing a turkey at a temperature above 40 degrees Farenheit, salmonella and other bacteria can grow and cause food poisoning. To avoid this 
there are some methods for safe defrosting. The turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator—one day for every 5 lbs. of the bird. The turkey can be submerged in water if it is in leak-proof packaging—30 minutes for every pound. The water should be changed every half hour. It’s also safe to defrost a turkey in a microwave. Remove any packaging and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Regardless of what thawing method you use, it is important to cook your turkey right after thawing.
Food poisoning can also happen if leftovers are not stored correctly. Leftovers must be stored two hours after serving. If they are going to be eaten within three days, store in the refrigerator, otherwise store leftovers in the freezer. Make sure to remove the bones from the meat before storing.   
Choking 
Choking can occur while tasting the Thanksgiving meal you are preparing or while your enjoying your dinner with loved ones. The first step is to call 9-1-1 if loved one is having problems breathing or speaking. Next, we recommend the use of the FIVE-and-FIVE technique. The first step is to give the choking victim five back blows, followed by five abdominal thrusts. Repeat these steps until object is forced out, person can breathe or becomes unconscious. If you are alone you can follow the same technique using your hand or by pressing your abdomen firmly on the back of a chair.
For more Thanksgiving safety tips visit the American Red Cross
Have a fun and safe Thanksgiving! 

Safety First During Holiday Travel

According to a new AAA suvey there is an expected 42.5 million Americans who will be traveling at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving holiday. That is a 4 percent increase from last year and most travelers are expected to use our nation’s roadways to reach their destinations.

To arrive safely to your destination, here are a few safety tips to consider before hitting the road:
  • Know when to travel. AAA predicts that 90 percent of travelers will be traveling by road to reach their destination and both Wednesday and Sunday afternoons will be the busiest times on the roads.
  • Make sure your car is in good working order.
  • Start out with a full, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Get 6-8 hours of sleep the night before. Fatigue decreases awareness and reaction time.
  • Avoid distractions like using your cell phone while driving.
  • Observe speed limits and be mindful of road work and road signs.
  • Make frequent stops.  During long trips, rotate drivers.  If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • Check road conditions and plan accordingly.
  • If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.
It is also recommended that you keep an emergency preparedness kit in your car. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. The Red Cross Deluxe Auto Safety Kit is a great solution to help people prepare for emergencies on the road and is available in the Red Cross Store at http://www.redcrossstore.org./

Turkey Fryer Fire Danger

In this YouTube video, State Farm demonstrates the dangers of using a deep fryer if not used correctly. Deep fryers have become a favorite during the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, because of their quick and tasty result. However, these handy cooking appliances can be dangerous if not used correctly. Here are some safety tips to take into consideration before using your deep fryer this holiday season.
  • Turkey fryers should always be placed outside, away from the home, fences or other structures and combustible materials. Avoid wooden decks.
  • Many deep fryers do not come with a thermostat. This can be dangerous because if left unattended the unit may overheat the oil, so make sure to buy a reliable thermostat.
  • To reduce the chance of tipping, place fryer on a flat surface.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful of marinades before placing it in the pot. Excess water in partially frozen turkeys will cause the pot to overflow, resulting in a fire hazard. The National Turkey Federation recommends 24 hours of thawing for every 5 lbs of bird before cooking in a turkey fryer.
  • Be careful to not overfill your turkey fryer with oil. To determine the correct amount of oil for your fryer, put the actual turkey you will be frying into the basket and then into the empty pot. Add enough water to cover the turkey by about two inches. Take out the turkey and measure how much water is in the pot. That is how much oil you will need.
  • Make sure there is a fire extinguisher close by. Never use water to put out a grease fire.
  • There are no insulated handles on deep fryers and lid and handles become very hot and can cause severe burns. Cover your hands by wearing leather gloves and wear protective eyewear if possible.
Visit here for more Thanksgiving safety tips.

Help Support Fire Victims this Holiday Season

A sudden house fire can leave a family without shelter and their essential day to day necessities and can be a devastating time for them. Therefore, it is important for us to be prepared to provide families with essentials that they may need after a house fire.

With the holiday season here, the American Red Cross offers a great way of helping house fire victims get back on their feet through the annual Holiday Giving Catalog. The Holiday Giving Catalog gives you the opportunity chose exactly what your donations will be going to. Whether you would like to support a family with shelter and food for a day or blankets after a fire, there are plenty of ways to help.

For the complete Holiday Giving Catalog please visit the American Red Cross.

Practice Kitchen Safety this Thanksgiving

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fires are more than twice as likely to occur on Thanksgiving day compared to an average day. This amounts to more than 4,000 fires on Thanksgiving day. In addition to making sure there is a working fire alarm in your home there are other easy safety precautions you can take to make this a fun and safe holiday.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires Thanksgiving day. About 90 percent of fires are caused by unattended cooking.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire like potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources.
  •  Wear tighter fitting clothes with short sleeves that are out of the way when cooking. 
  • Designate a “kid-free zone” at least three feet away from the stove and other hot surfaces.
  • If using a deep fryer when cooking, keep deep fryer outside away from walls, fences and other structures.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Turn handles of pots and pans inward to avoid accidents.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food make sure to check it regularly, stay in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Follow all manufacturer guidelines regarding the appropriate use of appliances.
  • After guests leave, walk around the house to make sure all candles and smoking materials are extinguished.