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American Red Cross Celebrates the Involvement of 160,000 Youth Volunteers


November is National Youth Involvement Month at the American Red Cross. The annual tradition focuses on the contributions Red Cross youth make to the organization.

“What a huge gift it is to impart to a young volunteer the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross Movement,” said American Red Cross National Chair of Volunteers Kate Forbes. “The principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality are values that volunteers can draw on throughout their lives. There is no better foundation for a lifetime of service that impacts the community, the nation and the world than the Fundamental Principles.”

In 2007 National Youth Involvement Month takes on a special significance, because 2007 marks the 90th anniversary of the Junior Red Cross. Youth have been formally involved in the mission of the American Red Cross since September 15, 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a Proclamation to schoolchildren of the United States, inviting them to become members of the Junior Red Cross and telling them they could now share in the “best work of the great cause of freedom.”

Ninety years ago the idea was that America’s youth would raise funds, make useful items for children around the world and do all the things that adult volunteers had no time to do. Soon, however, youth volunteers were blended into the mainstream of the organization, an integration of the generations that characterizes volunteerism within the American Red Cross today.

More than 160,000 volunteers age 24 and under help the American Red Cross fulfill its mission to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Youth and young adults represent nearly 30 percent of all Red Cross volunteers, serving alongside adult volunteers in leadership and governance, blood services, service to armed forces, disaster response, international services and health and safety.

The wide range of activities undertaken by Red Cross youth volunteers is evident from the projects selected for 2007 National Youth Involvement Month awards. Building on a recent acquisition of hundreds of items of Red Cross memorabilia, youth volunteers in Seattle’s chapter, the ARC Serving King and Kitsap Counties, have trained as docents and are offering guided tours of the new collection. In southern California, Orange County Chapter youth are planning a large holiday party for 3,000 needy elementary school children.

Youth volunteers from four Red Cross chapters in the Tampa, Florida area will be attending a one-day workshop to decide how to implement a team project to raise funds for the Measles Initiative, a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally, and efforts to fight Malaria, the number one cause of child mortality in Africa.

The American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay in Cambridge is celebrating youth volunteers through a Picturing the Youth of the Red Cross project which will select the most creative and meaningful pictures of youth volunteers and develop a set of photo collages to be used in the chapter’s marketing and public relations efforts.

In south central Mississippi, youth volunteers at the Pine Belt Chapter of the American Red Cross are conducting a four-county recruitment drive to grow the number of youth involved in the chapter. Youth volunteers in eastern Alabama’s Lee County Red Cross are celebrating the inaugural year of the Auburn University Red Cross Club by providing free life-saving adult CPR training to all club members.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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