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No vacation for Red Cross

When the local chapter of the American Red Cross responds to public disasters such as the 1999 tornado in Salt Lake City, Utahns have traditionally given generously to assist relief efforts, which is highly commendable.

But much of the help rendered by the Greater Salt Lake Area chapter of the American Red Cross occurs when the cameras are not rolling. Calls for help are generally of a more personal nature — sheltering a family whose house has burned; assisting the poor and disabled with utility bills during the recent spike in energy prices; and providing social services to refugees. While the needs are not as high-profile, they are every bit as urgent, depending upon one's circumstances.

Although the local chapter of the Red Cross goes to great lengths to project its financial needs for emergency response, the nature of emergencies is that they're unpredictable. Since July 2000, the organization has responded to a record number calls for service, starting with one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent history. As the chapter enters its busiest season, its emergency services coffers are dwindling.

To ensure that the Red Cross can continue to sustain this unprecedented level of service, the chapter needs a financial infusion from the community. This page encourages all within its reach to carefully consider the many services provided by the Red Cross and do their part to ensure that the chapter has the resources to render emergency services in the community.

Consider a recent call for help. When fire gutted a duplex in South Salt Lake, two families — one composed of nine family members — were displaced from their homes. They had nothing but the clothes on their backs. Within hours, the Red Cross had arranged temporary housing in a hotel, as well as clothing, medication and infant supplies. The chapter will continue to work with the families until they can re-establish their households.

Such personal disasters occur in Utah on a regular basis, and the cost of responding to these emergencies has escalated. According to Greater Salt Lake Area chapter of the American Red Cross, the amount spent responding to local disasters has tripled over the past five years.

But the local chapter takes seriously its commitment to be there when disaster strikes. Now, the community needs to demonstrate its appreciation and commitment to this vital organization.

Contributions can be sent to the Greater Salt Lake Area chapter of the American Red Cross at P.O. Box 3836, Salt Lake City, UT 84110 or on the Internet at