North Country Red Cross continues history of service

"Our chapter has raised $50,000 for Haiti," said Roberts, referring to the recent earthquake which devastated the island nation. "Nationally, we have raised over $200 million."

One local elementary school raised $1,608.52 in a week, and the National Red Cross "texting" fundraiser - in which people are able to help the Haiti effort by sending a financial pledge via cell phone text message to 90999 - has raised $30 million, said Roberts.

The local chapter has also taught nearly 7,400 people in the area with their health and safety programs, which include CPR, automated external defibrillator training, and waterfront safety [lifeguard certification] classes. The program also distributes informational material and safety presentations to various groups.

The chapter is also one of 35 nationwide that supports the Lifeline program, which assists elderly and physically-disabled persons by offering a small device with a button on it which, when activated, alerts the proper authorities when a person has become incapacitated for one reason or another.

"There are over 230 in the program," Roberts said. "So, if you count the Lifeline volunteers, we have over 500 in our chapter."

However, since the Red Cross isn't a government-funded entity, it must rely heavily on the continued financial support of the community.

Events like Fire and Ice, an annual silent and live auction - scheduled this year for Saturday, March 27, at the West Side Ballroom - help make that happen. In what is considered the chapter's biggest fundraiser, the event will also feature a Texas barbecue buffet and a Southwest theme, where participants will be encouraged to wear cowboy and cowgirl outfits.

For more information about Fire and Ice or the many programs and services of the American Red Cross, contact the chapter at 561-7280 or visit their Web site at www.northcountryredcross.org.

Volunteers are always needed and the chapter is always ready to help those in need, said Roberts.

"We are always open," she said.

Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

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