Bidding To Assist The Red Cross In Hawaii

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - March 17, 2010
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We’re smack in the middle of Red Cross Month, and it’s not too late for you to help out this absolutely essential organization. This is the agency that is there for us whenever and wherever disaster strikes. Its volunteers work with first responders to help individuals and families affected by a disaster, and get them back on their feet after tragedy strikes.

You don’t think about the Red Cross until something bad happens, and then you are grateful it is there. It responds during times of extreme crisis and stress: fires, floods, earthquakes - even hostage situations. Volunteers can make sure you have a bed to sleep in, get you your prescription medication, even cover your first month’s rent. And it expects no payment in return.

One of its biggest jobs is providing support to the military. What do you do if your spouse is in a faraway war zone and an emergency strikes the family? If you are a military dependent, the first place you look for help is likely the American Red Cross. It provides a welcome link in communication between the military members and their families. In fact, this mission is mandated by law.

“During a time of crisis, people just don’t know what they need to do,” says Becky laPolice-Murphy, who is the Red Cross station coordinator for Schofield Barracks. She says families of active-duty military and those in the National Guard and the Reserve have special needs, especially since they’ve been on constant deployment rotation.

If, say, a soldier is stationed in Iraq and his father is dying, the Red Cross will get word to the command so the soldier can come home to say his last goodbyes.

Murphy tells of a case where a woman whose husband is deployed learned her mother had passed away. The woman has six children and couldn’t afford to get her entire family to the Mainland for the funeral. Murphy and her volunteers jumped into action.

“We were able to get the message to her command, get her to the travel office and get her and her family off the island.”

That’s not all the Red Cross does with the military. It also runs the volunteer program at Tripler Army Medical Center, delivering flowers and running a mobile book and DVD library. Hawaii chapter CEO Coralie Chun Matayoshi says they even have 41 dogs, cats and rabbit volunteers that visit bedridden patients.

It also has a holiday mail program, and provides psychological first aid training for families struggling to cope with the stress of separation.

Matayoshi says deployment affects every member of the family.

“We can provide them with tools to be able to deal with the deployment. For example, how do you prepare the kids for the loss? How do you cope when your spouse is gone? And when they come back, how do you recognize signs of trouble?”

It takes money to provide these services. The Hawaii chapter has nine offices throughout the state and only 40 employees. But these employees oversee and mobilize about 4,000 volunteers.

While disaster victims in other parts of the world need our help, it’s important to keep some of the dollars here at home. So how to help? One way is to check out its online auction at: From now until March 31 you can bid on some pretty fabulous items, including a Suzuki Kizashi car, business class tickets to Sydney, Australia, and hotel stays in London, Dublin, Seattle, New York, San Francisco and many other locations. There are a lot of local items as well, including restaurant, spa, golf and massage certificates, plus airline tickets.

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