American Red Cross in dire need of volunteers as natural disasters rage on


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An organization famous for helping others, needs some help of their own.

As fires rage in the West and now hurricane Sally takes aim on the South, The American Red Cross is in dire need of volunteers– willing to put boots on the ground and help those in need.

“Twenty-twenty has definitely been a challenging year,” Sherri McKinney, Regional Communications  and Marketing Director for American Red Cross Tennessee said Monday. “You put COVID on top of anything and then mix in all the disasters.”

Wildfires continue to wreak havoc in California, Oregon and Washington State.

The Red Cross is preparing to help those in Hurricane Sally’s path, still supporting those recovering from Hurricane Laura in East Texas and Louisiana.

Tens of thousands of people are displaced, amid the coronavirus, looking to the American Red Cross for help.

Meantime, The Red Cross is looking for more volunteers.

“This is unprecedented,” McKinney said. “We need volunteers who are healthy and can respond quickly because disasters dong stop because of COVID and as we’ve seen in 2020 disasters keep coming.”

McKinney said the average Red Cross volunteer is 60 years of age or older, leaving them more susceptible to COVID-19.

The organization’s operations were flipped upside-down amid the pandemic with the number of volunteers with actual boots on the ground on the decline.

In March, following the Middle Tennessee tornadoes, 245 volunteers were able to respond. Just a month later, following the Chattanooga tornado, there were only 20 volunteers in-person, the rest responded virtually.

“We really desperately need people here in Tennessee and who can deploy who can be boots on the ground,” McKinney said.

As of Monday, McKinney said 64 Tennesseans were deployed– but more are needed, especially in Tennessee.

The organization is struggling to issue pre-paid cards to clients who need assistance following a disaster. They’re hand delivered and McKinney said she’s seeing a serious decline with volunteers unable to keep the pace up. Either because they’re high-risk for COVID-19 or they’re the only volunteers handing the pre-paid cards out.

“We have seen a decline since COVID hit because so many of our volunteers are like ‘it’s not worth the risk to my health’ and we understand that,” McKinney said. “It is really critical folks step up if you’ve ever thought about helping the time is now.”

In addition to volunteers, McKinney said the organization needs monetary donations as well.

Donations will help with sheltering, feeding and overall taking care of people on their worst day. Ten dollars donated provides one meal.

If you would like to donate, click here or text RED CROSS to 90-999.

To learn more, click here.

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