Help Save Lives at UNC-Chapel Hill’s 28th annual Carolina Blood Drive

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is hosting its 28th annual Carolina Blood Drive this summer. Organizers hope to reach a goal of 830 pints colleCarolinaDropcted, which will help UNC achieve a milestone 25,000 pints collected since 1988.

28th annual Carolina Blood Drive
Tuesday, June 7

7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dean E. Smith Center

All presenting donors will receive a Carolina Blood Drive T-shirt courtesy of the American Red Cross, while supplies last. Free parking is available at the Smith Center.

Appointments are strongly recommended. To make an appointment to donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App or visit and use sponsor code UNC.

About five families lose their homes to fire every day

It can be difficult to comprehend, but every day in Eastern North Carolina, about five home fires occur.

Five families lose their beloved possessions, House Fire 2015sometimes loved ones and pets. Five families are left homeless. Five families are forced to rise from the soot and
rebuild their lives. Five families almost every single day.

“Unfortunately, home fires are all too common,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive of the Red Cross in Eastern North Carolina. “Each day in our region, families affected by home fires all of a sudden face the tremendous challenge of regrouping and starting new. It’s our job to help ease that burden.”

In just one weekend in April, the Red Cross responded to 18 fires in the Eastern North Carolina region, which affected 73 people. That weekend, the Triangle area saw two 12-unit apartment fires, which left families homeless, many injured, and killed several pets. Only one apartment fire received media attention that weekend, but the Red Cross was onsite at each disaster.

In each case, families may be provided financial assistance, shelter, food, and mental health services to help them begin their recovery.

The Red Cross relies on the generosity of the community to continue to help families affected by home fires each day. To make your contribution, visit

The Red Cross is there as soldiers return home

Hours before families arrived for a welcome home ceremony at Ft. Bragg on March 9, the American Red Cross was preparing for them.

At 2:45 a.m., coffee brewed in the Red Cross office on the installation. Volunteers put on their blue vests and got to work loading their cars with canteen supplies – orange tang, coffee, granola bars, cookies, coloring books, tissues, informational materials and more. By 4 a.m., the team of eight volunteers was ready to serve and entertain the families who eagerly awaited their soldiers.

The empty warehouse-like building quickly turned into a maze of hundreds of people. Throughout the crowd, blue vests could be spotted. Some handed out Goldfish crackers and crayons, while others simply sat and listened to the anxious moms and dads who hadn’t seen their sons or daughters in almost a year.

Heather Sizemore and her three children were the first to arrive.


Heather Sizemore (right) with her children, Sarah (left), Asher and Gabriel.

Despite it being 5 a.m., 7-year-old Sarah sprinted into the empty building, and 3-year-old Asher scaled the wooden benches. Heather held her sleeping 15-month-old as she tried to corral the others. She’d already been up since 4 a.m., ridding Asher’s bedroom of monsters.

Following her children in, Heather found a seat in the first row of benches, directly in front of where the 82nd Airborne Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division would march into the building from the runway. The soldiers were the last group of paratroopers to return home from deployment in Iraq.

With a big grin, little Sarah told me she was waiting on her daddy to come home.

“He’s been gone nine months,” Heather said. “You have to prepare yourself mentally and be patient with your children.”

A few rows over from Heather’s family sat Kym LaRiviere and her 3-year-old, Evelyn. “I’m going to run to my daddy and tell him I love him,” Evelyn said.


Kym LaRiviere (left) plays with her daughter, Evelyn.

Evelyn already had the day with her dad mapped out – eat snacks, play puzzles and eat more snacks. She grazed on a chocolate-covered granola bar as she spoke to me. And in her left hand, she carried a “Frozen” Disney balloon. That’s how she planned to get her daddy’s attention. “Balloons are good for daddies,” she explained.

The plane finally touched down as the sun rose over the tarmac. Families moved outside to see 118 paratroopers marching in. Of those soldiers returning home was Maj. Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne.

Before going home to his own family, Clarke shook hands with each Red Cross volunteer at the canteen.

“Thank you for always being here,” he said. “The Red Cross is always here when we get home.”

Eastern North Carolina Recognizes its Volunteers Accomplishments

The Eastern North Carolina Region spent the last few months recognizing all the accomplishments that our 4,200 Red Cross volunteers have done through out the year. Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross more than 130 years ago to provide aid to service members during the Civil War. While the mission of the ARC has expanded beyond just service to the armed forces, Red Cross volunteers still perform vital functions to help support our service members and their Families, at home and overseas.

Linda Daley and Wanda Smith With Jeannette Salcedo and Col. Ronald Stephens

Linda Daley and Wanda Smith With Jeannette Salcedo and Col. Ronald Stephens

The majority of the Red Cross volunteers at Fort Bragg spend their time at Womack Army Medical Center, “You can’t walk through the hospital without seeing blue vest after blue vest and smiling face after smiling face,” said Col. Ronald Stephens, commander, WAMC, referring to the vests the volunteers wear while on duty (Quoted from Paraglide online “Sharing Smiles: Red Cross volunteers receive thanks”). Three amazing volunteers who work on Fort Bragg received a Partnership Award for cooperative work between paid and volunteer staff. Wanda Smith, Linda Daney and Ivette Davis have shown a commitment to not only the Red Cross mission but to builiding a great team within Fort Bragg community.

Margaret Idol, Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award recipient, Edward Buck, volunteer and State Rep. Philip Shepard.

Margaret Idol, Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award recipient, Edward Buck, volunteer and State Rep. Philip Shepard.

A Red Cross leader for more than 20 years, Margaret Idol, Disaster Services Manager, was bestowed “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine” , a very prestigious award in North Carolina that very few receive. The award was presented to Margaret at the Onslow County Chapter Annual Meeting in June by Edward Buck and N.C. State Representative Philip Shepard. Margaret has assisted with over 25 disaster relief operations and leads day to day Disaster Services in the Onslow County area. She is a retired Educator and has dedicated her time to giving back to the community. Margaret spends many hours continuing from her professional life ended and her volunteer life began as a disaster instructor and trainer. She has led a very success volunteer disaster training program in the Onslow County Chapter and is a great role model for those around her.

Dayl Dougherty was honored at the Triangle Area Chapter Volunteer Recognition Event for her work in Blood Services as well as the Office Administration Area.  While we talk about the importance of the canteen and greeter volunteers in Blood Services, working in Office Administration is critical to support the Red Cross for day to day mission delivery.  Dayl Dougherty first became aware of the American Red Cross when her mother told her about some of her exploits in Europe during World War II where she served as a Red Cross driver for General Gavin.  After graduating from nursing school, Dayl came to work for the Red Cross in Blood Services in 1997.  This is where she learned how to identify a good vein to draw blood which not only helped her career but also her patients.  She took the skill sets she learned at the Red Cross as she continued her career in the medical field in many other areas.  When Dayl retired she decided to turn her compassion in to action to give back by volunteering and lucky for us, she chose the Red Cross.  She has worked more than 136 hours this past year working at the Peartree Lane Blood Center, at mobile drives, in apheresis and serving as a volunteer receptionist in the Raleigh office.  When Dayl works, she always has a smile on her face and her compassion comes through whether she is answering the phones, assisting a client that comes into the office, helping the office staff or working with donors and apheresis patients.  Dayl  is recognized for her exceptional volunteer service and the commitment and compassion she brings with her every day to us and to our community.

Sue, Mark and Marie assisting with an apartment fire on the day  of the volunteer luncheon.

Sue, Mark and Marie assisting with an apartment fire on the day of the volunteer luncheon.

At the Volunteer Center of Durham 41st Annual Key Volunteer of the Year and Governor’s Volunteers Service Awards Luncheon, Mark Rodrigues and Marie McIntyre, and Sue Reinhardt were recognized for their hard work and dedication to the Disaster Services programs and the mission of the Red Cross. Sue Reinhardt was further recognized with the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. Sue is a Mass Care lead in the Central North Carolina area, she led the way to updating all the sheltering agreements for 51 shelters in 20 counties. In her spare time as a volunteer Sue will teach new volunteers; whether in a class setting or in small informal groups to accomplish various projects.

MaKayla Newcomb 2One of our youth volunteers, MaKayla Newcomb, 11 years old and a very active blood services volunteer entered the 4-H 2015 Presentation Day competition. Her presentation was on the various service lines of the Red Cross complete with props, a very interactive PowerPoint and ended as a recruitment for more volunteers. Makayla is engaging with the blood donors conversing about Red Cross services, fundraising and other activities. Makayla won the State 4-H competition with a Gold Award for her presentation; her future is very bright and full of possibilities. Congratulations to Makayla!

Along with handing out service line awards, several Volunteer of the Year awards, Leadership awards, and years of service pins were handed out this year. Years of Service pins included a 75 year volunteer, Doris Martin, Onslow County Chapter, who has assisted with sheltering and other needs since she was a 14 year old girl in Massachusetts. Blackhawk Fornelli, Greater Pamlico Area Chapter, received his 45 year pin and began his Red Cross volunteer career as a Health and Safety instructor.

120 Presidential Volunteer Service Awards were given out at the Annual Meetings in June. Sherry Clain is a new addition to the Eastern North Carolina Region volunteer team after living in New Jersey for many years. Sherry now lives in the Wilmington area and is currently partnering with a Disaster Program Manager virtually in New Jersey as well as becoming a new addition to the Disaster Workforce Volunteer Team in the Cape Fear Chapter. Sherry has served on several disaster responses including the plane that landed on the Hudson River and Hurricane Sandy. For all the dedication to the Red Cross over the years Sherry has accumulated over 5,100 volunteers and recently received the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Award.

Sherry Clain, Disaster Services Volunteer and James Jarvis, Disaster Program Specialist

Sherry Clain, Disaster Services Volunteer and James Jarvis, Disaster Program Specialist

In conclusion, our volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization making up more than 90% of our workforce. While this article acknowledges the accomplishments of a few great volunteers we have many to thank. Whether you give 1 hour or 30 hours a week, month or year we thank you for all that you do. If you know of someone who would like to volunteer, such as a friend, co-worker or family member please have them go to our website and complete an online application so they too can enjoy and experience the work we do first hand.

American Red Cross Urges People to Stay Safe Cooking This Holiday Season

thanksgiving_dinner_1280x1024EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA [November 21, 2014] — The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year – one every eight minutes — and most are home fires. Last year, the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina provided shelter, food, clothing, and emotional support to 2,628 families in need. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Red Cross of Eastern NC encourages families to prevent kitchen fires by taking some basic safety measures.

“Thanksgiving is the peak day for kitchen fires, and most of those are caused by unattended cooking,” said James D. Jarvis, Disaster Program Specialist, Cape Fear Chapter. “The good news is that home fires can be prevented by following some simple, safety tips.”

A recent Red Cross survey revealed that nearly one in five Americans (16 percent) admit to leaving food cooking unattended on the stove — a major cause of kitchen fires.

Tips to avoid cooking fires include:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes.
  • Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.
  • Don’t leave food on the stove unattended.
  • Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.


If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put out the fire. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water! This will actually fuel the fire.

If something catches fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread into the walls. If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave, if you can. Don’t use it again until a repairman checks it.

If the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when outside. Once outside, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.

Download the Red Cross First Aid App at to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies, including burns.  For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, please visit

Recognizing our volunteers in Coastal Carolina, Newbern, NC

The American Red Cross- Coastal Carolina Chapter, Newbern, N.C. held its Volunteer Recognition event on October 16th at the Broadcreek Recreation Center. Approximately 30 volunteers attended the program that highlighted the services and programs the Red Cross has done in the area in the last fiscal year and celebrated the achievements.

An In-Kind check was presented and accepted by Penny Williams, Coastal Carolina Board Chair to represent the 4,735.5 hours of time committed by the volunteers and valuing at $104,842.97.

Special recognition was given to the following award receipents for their exceptional service:

Service to Armed Forces Award: Fred Eldredge, Russell Reed, and Walter Ray Derr

Disaster Services Award: Lanikai Morbley

Rookie of the Year Award: Dan Brown

Blood Services Award: Ruth and Tom McIvors

Volunteer of the Year Award: Lanikai Morbley

Partnership Award: Eastern and Central N.C. Food Bank, Knights of Columbus. Both of these partners were acknowledges for all their continued work with the Red Cross through Disaster Services.

Red Cross Heroes Awards: Kristen Willis  and Joe Avolis. Kristen has worked tiredlessly in her role as a Donor Recruitment Manager, Biomedical Services, with the community and the Coastal Carolinas Chapter. Joe raised $5250 doing a Ride for the Red bike ride from the Virginia/ North Carolina border to the North Carolina/ South Carolina border. Raising awareness along the way about all the important work that the Red Cross does in the community.

Red Cross Hero award receipent

Red Cross Hero award receipent

President’s Volunteer Service Awards- Recognition of volunteer hours completed over the time leading up to June 2014.

Bronze Awards (100 to 249 hours): Eloisa Able, Melvin Allen, Theresa Allen, Ruth McIvor, Tom McIvor, Tom Monte, Michael Soriano, Cameron Stallings, and Penny Williams

Silver Awards (250-499 hours): none

Gold Awards (500-3999 hours): Walter Ray Derr, Fred Eldredge, Patricia Griffin, June Harrison, Marie Howard, Willard Mattmiller, Charles Miller, Lanikai Morbley, Sabita Murray, Russell Reed, and Brenda Wright

Lifetime Awards (4,000 plus hours): Linda Eldredge, Alvin Younger, and Charles Ferko









Sampson County Fire Claims Lives, Inspires Hope

Link to FayObserver story - Sampson County Fire

Fire quickly engulfed and destroyed the home in Sampson County.

by: James Jarvis, American Red Cross

Andre Smith, or ‘Dre as his friends called him, loved video games, playing basketball, and watching professional wrestling. At ten years old, he was a full-loving child who always had a smile on his face and enjoyed goofing off with his cousins, said Sabrina Sheridan, ‘Dre’s aunt. “He said that he wanted to be a policeman someday so that he could help people,” Sheridan said. ‘Dre’s sister, Tashiya, had dreams of her own.

Tashiya was younger than ‘Dre, only nine years old, but she was certainly no smaller personality. “She lit up the room, “ Sheridan said. “She was always singing, dancing, laughing, or playing. She loved to ‘dress up’ and hoped to become a teacher someday.”
Two beautiful children, full of life and brimming with potential, will unfortunately never achieve their dreams, as they lost their lives along with four others in a tragic mobile home fire in Garland, NC on August 30, 2014. Six lives lost and three families left to grieve over what could have been.

Sabrina Sheridan remembers her sister as a hard-working mother. When Anita Robinson, 33, was not playing games with her children, ‘Dre and Tashiya, or helping them with their homework, she was hard at work to try to provide them with a better life. “She had a personality that everyone loved. Her family was her life and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her,” Sheridan said.

‘Dre and Tashiya were not Anita’s only loves. For the past seven years, Johnnie Newkirk, 35, better known as Kent, was Anita’s man. Kent loved working with his hands, said his aunt, Ms. Lizzie Murphy. “He was always working on car stereos, electronics, anything he could get his hands on. If you needed it fixed, he could do it!”

Kent was a family man, Murphy explained. “He tried to see his son [age 7] as often as he could and he loved Anita’s children as if they were his own.” He remained close to his mother, Laura Ann Newkirk, 63, until his final day.

“Laura Ann was a very quiet person,” said Murphy of her youngest sister. “She read her bible, looked out for everyone, and was really involved with ‘Dre and Tashiya. She cared for them when Anita had to work late and helped them with their homework and basically kept them on track,” Murphy said. When Murphy retired, she reconnected with Laura Ann and the two spoke by telephone sometimes three times a day. “We were very close growing up and it was great to become so close to her again,” she said.

“Everyone loved Possum,” said James Wilson’s mother, Queen Esther Wilson of Clinton, NC. James Wilson, known simply as Possum from the time he was a baby, was the eldest son from among 15 children. Possum was a rugged man – a product of 30 years of hard work as a farmer in nearby Clinton, NC. For nearly 25 years, Possum was Laura Ann’s companion and never far from her side. Queen Esther remembers her son as a God-fearing man who had a heart of gold.

Six lives, three generations – gone. Shortly after 12:30 a.m., in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2014, Laura Ann’s mobile home caught fire. “My grandson (Solomon) was the first person to arrive on the scene,” said Joyce Miles, a neighbor and Laura Ann Newkirk’s cousin. “He ran as fast as he could and tried to kick in the door, but the fire threw him backwards. There was nothing anyone could do. In a little less than seven minutes, the whole structure was gone!”

By all accounts, this tragedy could have been prevented if Laura Ann’s mobile home had been protected by smoke alarms. Fire investigators determined that there were no working smoke alarms in Laura Ann’s home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. To help ensure that no other family endures the pain and intense grief that these families endured, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, numerous fire departments of Sampson County, the American Red Cross, and several other local, state, and national organizations partnered October 4th to install nearly 800 10-year smoke alarms in at-risk communities across the county.

Hundreds of volunteers canvassed dozens of neighborhoods across the county to teach people about fire safety, and properly install working fire alarms in their homes. “Fire is everyone’s fight,” said Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin. “By working together, by pooling our resources, and by reaching out to the most at-risk communities, we can prevent future tragedies.”

Through their grief, the families of the people lost that fateful night are grateful to see something positive come from their tragedy. “What they are doing now is just a Godsend and a blessing,” said Murphy. “It’s as if our family has been through a horrible storm and then when it seems darkest, the skies turn blue and all that’s left are little pieces. God will help us put the pieces back together and see us through. Hopefully this program will help ensure that no one else loses their lives unnecessarily.”

“We’re all grieving. We’re all hurting,” said Miles. “The trailer is a constant reminder for me (as it rests across the street from her home). Not an hour goes by that I don’t think of them. I remember Tashiya being so happy the day before… she was singing and laughing and it’s hard to comprehend not hearing that laughter again or seeing them run into the house from the school bus. It’s so sad to see so many generations lost in one tragedy. It’s truly amazing how many people and resources have flowed into our community following this tragedy. Hopefully their efforts will help ensure that no one else will have to experience this.”

To learn more about fire safety, please visit our Home Fire Preparedness page. To learn more about the American Red Cross’ Home Fires Campaign, please visit our Home Fire Campaign page.



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