Holiday Mail For Heroes Box Opens

Eastern NC Region Red Cross Enables Public to Give Something that Means Something this Holiday Season

“Holiday Mail for Heroes” Mailbox Open Through December 6Mom and daughter sign a card for Dad at the holiday card signing kickoff hosted by the Red Cross and 916th air refueling squadron at SeymourJohnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC on Nov. 15 2012

EASTERN, NC, September 30, 2013 — Today marks the beginning of the 2013 Holiday Mail for Heroes program, meaning that Americans who wish to send a holiday card to a service member can easily do so with the help of the Red Cross.

From September 30 to December 6, Americans can express their gratitude and best wishes for the holiday season to those who give the ultimate gift to our country. Service members, veterans and their families will receive cards across the country and around the world.

“It just takes a moment to sign a card to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the military community make,” said Josh Cain, Director of Service to Armed Forces for the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross . “You say thanks, and we’ll do the rest.”

The Red Cross invites the public to send messages of thanks and holiday cheer by mailing them to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Red Cross volunteers across the United States and on military installations overseas sort and deliver the cards throughout the holiday season. The Red Cross has received and distributed more than 6.5 million cards for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and their families since the program began in 2006.

The Red Cross chapters across eastern NC will be holding a number of card signing events throughout the community.  For the second year in a row the Red Cross will hold a card signing partnership kick-off with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in early November.  For more information about card signing events in your area, contact your local Red Cross chapter.

To ensure that cards are delivered in time for the holidays, they must be postmarked no later than December 6. Individuals are asked to refrain from sending letters, monetary donations, or any other kinds of inserts with the cards and from using glitter. More information and card requirements can be found at

The Red Cross also invites the public to share photos and videos of their card signing efforts or their holiday greeting for troops by using the hashtag #HolidayMail on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine accounts. The Red Cross will use the material on its social sites through out the holiday season.  The public also can connect with fellow card senders through and using the hashtag #holidaymail.

The Red Cross relies on the support of the American people to carry out its mission of service to the 2 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 24 million veterans and their families. During this holiday season, the public can also support all Red Cross services by making a financial donation at or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. Individuals can also give the gift of life by making an appointment to give blood at or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

About our Holiday Partners:

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for the support of our corporate partners that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include: Circle K West and AAA Insurance Community Safety Foundation, funded by AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah Insurance Exchange.  Thanks to the generosity of these and other sponsors, the Red Cross is able to carry out its mission of helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies everyday here and around the world. Each holiday season the Red Cross gives everyone the chance to support our work by giving blood, signing a card for military heroes or buying a gift through our holiday catalog. To support the Red Cross this Holiday Season, visit


9th Annual Griffin Riso Blood Drive and Fundraiser

Saturday, October 26, in the Westport community of Winnabow

Event PosterPublic welcome!  Join the Riso Family and the American Red Cross for a fun-filled day of children’s activities, music, prize drawings, food, fun and a silent auction.  You can also make an appointment to give the “Gift of Life” at the on-site blood drive from 9 a.m. -1:30 p.m.

Proceeds raised will benefit the vital programs and services provided by the American Red Cross – Cape Fear Chapter, in honor of Griffin Riso.  Griffin’s life was saved through a transfusion facilitated by the American Red Cross in 2004, only days after he was born with a rare platelet disorder.

To make an appointment to give blood at any time, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit

The Riso Family has also partnered with the Fuzzy Peach of Leland to raise money and recruit blood donors for the American Red Cross.  The Fuzzy Peach of Leland (located at 1109 New Pointe Blvd Suite 4, Leland, North Carolina 28451) will donate 15% of all FroYo sales to the American Red Cross – Cape Fear Chapter from 5 – 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 10, in honor of Griffin Riso.  So, come enjoy some tasty frozen yogurt and support the American Red Cross!

Camp Lejeune Burger King Makes Donation to Red Cross

LeVerne Buck is a disaster volunteer for the Red Cross of Onslow County so he see first hand how local donations can make a great impact on area residents who’ve been impacted by disasters like home fires.  So when Buck asked his employer to make a donation to the organization he supported, they graciously obliged.  Burger King of Camp Lejeune presented Buck with a $250 check to support the Onslow County chapter of the American Red Cross who serve community members in the Jacksonville area by providing emergency services, preparedness courses and information, and assistance to the military.

Mr. LeVerne Buck of Hubert, NC is presented with a $250 check from Carrols/Burger King by Becky Switzer, General Manager, Burger King,  Camp Lejeune.

Mr. LeVerne Buck of Hubert, NC is presented with a $250 check from Carrols/Burger King by Becky Switzer, General Manager, Burger King, Camp Lejeune

LeVerne has been a volunteer with Red Cross  for six years.   He recently applied for and received an employee  grant from Carrols Francise/Burger King through their employee “dollars for doers” program.  Under this program, employees can earn money for a qualifying organization if they volunteer a minimum of 24 hours in any three month period.  In LeVerne’s six years of service with the Red Cross, he has been deployed twice nationally; once to San Diego (2007) for wildfires, and to Texas during Hurricane Ike (2008).   Most recently, he volunteered 30 hours in Kinston assisting victims of an apartment fire.   LeVerne is active with his local Red Cross chapter serving on a disaster action team in his local community; being available on-call one week of every month.

Wilmington Red Cross Worker Heads to Canada

On Saturday, September 21, Regional Response Manager for the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross, Victoria Kling, will travel to Alberta, Canada where she will be part of a team responsible for initiating the relief and recovery evaluation process from the Alberta Flood Response. This is a collaborative effort and Kling joins fellow staff and volunteers from both the American and Canadian Red Cross societies.

Victoria Kling, Regional Response Manager

Victoria Kling, Regional Response Manager

“My focus will be working with key government agency partners, several tribal nations, and some community partners to conduct feedback interviews discussing the successes and challenges of the operation, and lessons learned for future planning,” said Kling. “It’s important to engage feedback from all constituent groups involved in a response.   A disaster response is a collaborative effort, and we look to strengthen and continue to build resilient communities with partners, agencies and community groups.  My role here is one part of a larger process.”  After Action Reviews, an important and valuable component of any Red Cross disaster response, will also be taking place.  The Red Cross looks at what can be learned and how things can be improved in the future.

Heavy rainfall earlier this summer caused the worst floods on record in southern Alberta that prompted the evacuation of 90,000 people in Calgary, High River, Medicine Hat and Drumheller.   A state of emergency was declared in twenty-seven states throughout the province.

The flooding caused major transportation and telecommunication infrastructure damage, power outages and water contamination. The Canadian Red Cross sought support from the American Red Cross who deployed 14 trained disaster volunteers to assist in the ongoing response.  The Red Cross opened evacuation shelters and distributed a number of relief supplies throughout the area.

The American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross have a long history of mutual disaster response support and coordination. The American Red Cross has a roster of disaster volunteers on standby, available to deploy in support of both national and international responses.

This will be Kling’s first international deployment although she’s no stranger to large disaster relief operations.  She has been with the Red Cross since 2004 and has assisted on a number of national responses including, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Katrina, Irene and Superstorm Sandy as well as numerous local responses to home fires, flooding and other disasters.  Kling also supports international tracing cases, a service provided to locals trying to reunite with loved ones throughout the world.

For more information on becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit or contact the Cape Fear Chapter at 910-762-2683 x327.

Eastern NC Volunteers Head to Colorado for Flood Response

On September 17, three volunteers from Eastern NC have been sent to Colorado to help with the ongoing flood response in Colorado. Chuck Thurlow from the Cape Fear Chapter, Johnie Williams from the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter and Margo Yates from the Frederick E. Turnage Chapter join more than 750 trained Red Cross disaster workers already assisting flood victims.Chuck thurlow packing his bags

These volunteers were selected for their expertise and experience responding to both national and local disasters. More than a thousand trained volunteers in eastern NC stand ready to respond to disasters whether it is a single family home fire or major disaster like hurricanes, tornadoes or flooding.

The American Red Cross is supporting rescue operations in Colorado by providing food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to thousands of people forced from their homes by devastating flash flooding. Red Cross disaster workers are at the Boulder airport reception center to provide care and comfort as stranded residents arrive after being airlifted out of flooded neighborhoods and towns. Sunday night, as many as 1,000 people stayed in 24 shelters across the state.

The Red Cross is working closely with local emergency management officials, the Colorado National Guard and community organizations to ensure people get the help they need. More than 250 trained Red Cross disaster workers are deployed to Colorado, along with more than 20 emergency response vehicles and six trucks of relief supplies. Working with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Red Cross has served more than 7,100 meals and snacks.

Government officials estimate as many as 18,000 homes are affected by the Colorado flooding. Access to some communities remains difficult due to flood waters and damaged roads. As these areas begin to re-open, the Red Cross will be there to assess the damage, distribute relief supplies and support a recovery effort that will take weeks and months.

HOW TO HELP People across the flooded areas need help now. The Red Cross has launched a massive relief effort to help people in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas and needs the continued support of the public to help those affected. People can make a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Red Cross Honors Volunteers and Partners in Kinston Towers Response


Tammy Forrester presents her board chair of the Lenoir County chapter with an award for his outstanding service.

On September 12, the Red Cross gathered with numerous community volunteers and partners to recognize extraordinary acts of service performed during the Kinston Towers multi-family fire response back in June 2013.

Partners from the Kinston Housing Authority, local churches (Kinston First Baptist Church, Sharon United Methodist Church, Burning Bush Church Ministries, Hickory Grove Disciples of Christ), AKA Sororities (Kinston and Goldsboro chapters), the Salvation Army, and NC Baptist Men were in attendance along with Red Cross volunteers and employees who participated in the relief efforts.

Certificates of Appreciation were given to all who were present. Other agencies were also recognized who were not in attendance.  Special recognition was given to Sonia Johnson and Tammy Forrester for their good work and dedication throughout the entire operation.

Red Cross CEO Bill Brent presents a certificate to a member of the Southern Baptist who helped prepare thousands of meals for Kinston Towers evacuees.

Red Cross CEO Bill Brent presents a certificate to a member of the Southern Baptist who helped prepare thousands of meals for Kinston Towers evacuees.

Number of Local Home Fire Responses Increase in Rocky Mount Area

The Frederick E. Turnage Chapter of the American Red Cross provided assistance to local residents after being called to 7 home fire incidents over the last 2 weeks.  Home fires account for more than 90% of disasters throughout the country. Since the beginning of the year, the Turnage Chapter has responded to more than 100 home fires in Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson counties.

Disaster volunteer James Tilley joined the Red Cross last year and has already seen his fair share of disasters, responding to upwards of a hundred home fires in the greater Rocky Mount area.  He knows all too well how devastating a home fire can be.

Tilley is ready to respond at all hours of the day or night.  Once he receives a call, he meets with the families that have been affected and offers them assistance in the form of temporary shelter, food, clothing, supplies and emotional support.

“I know what people feel like after a fire,” said Tilley. “In 2002 I lost my house to a fire, that’s why I’m dedicated to what I do.”

Tilley’s dedication goes beyond providing immediate assistance to those in need; he is also a strong advocate for prevention and preparedness.

“I tell people about renter’s insurance to protect your family, it’s not that much expense,” said Tilley. “Most I see don’t have home or renter’s insurance; maybe one out of five people have it.”

Not only is it important for families to be covered after a disaster occurs, they need to take steps to prevent them from happening.  Tilley says the types of fires he sees most often are easily preventable by paying attention and being aware of situations that pose a fire risk.

“Many home fires are caused by carelessness in the kitchen or overloading of circuits,” remarks Tilley.  “I see it a lot in older homes where someone will plug something in that hasn’t been checked and it overheats the outlet, you should never overload the circuits.”

Cooking fires are in fact the number one cause of most house fires.  The Red Cross recommends the following tips for fire prevention and cooking safely:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire—like pot holders, towels, plastic and clothing— away from the stove.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

Other important fire prevention and safety recommendations include installing smoke alarms throughout your home and checking the batteries on a regular basis, and having a fire escape plan that you practice with every member of the household.

Disasters of all kinds can strike quickly and often without warning. During National Preparedness Month, the local Red Cross encourages all households to get ready for the next emergency or disaster whether it is a home fire or a hurricane.

Having a game plan in place is essential for all households so everyone knows what they should do when an emergency occurs,” said Lynwood Robeson, CEO for the Frederick E. Turnage Chapter of the American Red Cross “National Preparedness Month is a perfect time for Rocky Mount area residents to create or update their plan.”

MAKE A PLAN It is important that everyone in the household helps put the emergency plan together and knows what they should do if something occurs. Household members may not be together when a disaster happens – during the day many people are at work and school. The plan should include ways to contact one another and two predetermined places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. People should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.

Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where family members will go if ordered to evacuate and what route they will take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. If pets are part of the household, make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross has free mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies including developing an emergency plan. “People can use the ‘Make a Plan’ feature in the apps to create their plan and then share it with their loved ones,” Robeson said. “The preloaded content in the apps gives people access to vital information to use during emergencies, even if they can’t connect to the internet.” The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

OTHER WAYS TO GET READY Another step to get one’s household ready is to build an emergency kit in a container that is easy to carry so the family can use it at home or take it with them if asked to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of emergency supplies at home.