The Red Cross has been part of American life for more than 100 years. In many cases, the Red Cross history is American history. During Red Cross month each March, we honor and celebrate the work done by Red Cross throughout the years and today.
Based on the volunteer work she did to bring supplies to soldiers during the Civil War, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. She ran the organization for the next 23 years. This support and dedication to aiding military troops continued throughout the country’s history from the Spanish-American War to international conflicts of today.
Unlike other nonprofit organizations, the Red Cross has special ties to the federal government. It was established with a congressional charter with responsibilities to “fulfill the provisions of the Geneva Conventions”, provide support to the U.S. military, and maintain a system for disaster relief (tied to work FEMA does). No other non-governmental organization has this level of responsibility. It’s not something the Red Cross takes lightly.
The Red Cross provides help in five areas: disaster relief, support for military families, blood donations, health and safety services, and international services. Think about the last time you saw a devastating natural disaster somewhere across the country or the last time your child’s school did a blood drive. Chances are the Red Cross was involved.
Despite its ties to the federal government, the Red Cross still needs individual and corporate donations. The Red Cross is a volunteer organization. In fact, 90 percent of the workforce is made up of volunteers supporting the mission of the organization to prevent and relieve suffering. During Red Cross Month, many people donate funds and supplies, give blood, take health and safety classes, or volunteer to participate with the organization.