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March is Red Cross Month

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March is Red Cross Month, an observation originally proclaimed in 1943 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. For the last 71 years, every standing president has designated March as Red Cross Month, including President Obama.

When President Roosevelt first made his proclamation, the United States was at war and the Red Cross was deeply committed to supporting troops abroad and families on the home front. Red Cross workers overseas offered communication links and home-style comforts to our troops, while back at home, Red Cross blood drives helped support the medical needs of the military. The organization also mobilized to knit items for soldiers, train people in first aid skills, and ship care packages to prisoners of war. These efforts to support the Armed Forces, provide disaster relief, collect blood and teach safety skills made the work of the Red Cross vital to the American people during WWII.

Today, the Red Cross continues to provide these life-saving services as they evolve to meet the changing needs of the nation. When President Obama issued this year's Red Cross Month proclamation, he confirmed that the Red Cross remains an important part of the nation's fabric. It is still the place where military families turn for help to reach loved ones overseas and to cope with the impact of deployment. Volunteers respond to 70,000 disasters across the nation each year. It provides about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply. It trains and prepare 20,000 people for emergencies each day.

In Northeastern New York, for example, these numbers translate to 374 local disaster responses last year, helping more than 600 families; 77,975 units of blood collected for use at hospitals throughout the region; and 46,644 local residents trained in preparedness, health and safety skills.

The volunteers, blood donors, training participants, financial supporters, and community partners
who make this work possible are the "Everyday Heroes". This Red Cross Month, there are a variety of activities planned to highlight these heroes and to demonstrate how the Red Cross helps people in our community every day.

Read on to learn more, and become part of the Red Cross this month by making a donation or giving blood, developing a preparedness plan for your household or taking a Red Cross class, or becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

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