Monday, December 31, 2012

Everyday Disasters: You Never Know When You'll Need Red Cross Relief

Written by Amy Yen, volunteer contributor

When there are large-scale natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the American Red Cross is highly visible in its response. But those are just some of the more than 70,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to each year. These range from hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes all the way down to single-family house and apartment fires. In fact, the Red Cross responds to a home fire every 9 minutes.
Chris Huckabee, an American Red Cross supporter, never knew he would also be a recipient of Red Cross relief after a home fire.

One of these was at the home of Christopher Huckabee, CEO of Fort Worth-based architecture, engineering and management firm Huckabee, Inc., whose house caught fire around 4 a.m. on the morning of October 7. Fortunately, fire alarms woke the family and, thanks to safety training, everyone escaped the house unharmed.
Standing out in the morning cold, Chris Huckabee was ill prepared for the chill as he and his family watched as the fire department arrived.
“About an hour into the fire, a nice gentleman walked up to me and offered me a cup of coffee. I welcomed the kindness but was somewhat surprised. He offered hot chocolate to my wife and daughters and then offered me a warm blanket as we stood outside and watched the firefighters work,” described Chris. “I finally asked him, ‘Who are you?’ His response: ‘I'm a volunteer with the Red Cross.’ I remember thinking, ‘Wow, the Red Cross is at my house, this cannot be good.’"
Chris was impressed, not only by the service provided to his family, but also to the first responders. “The Red Cross provided food and drinks as the crews would come in and out of our house. It was serving others at the highest level – a response I will never forget.”
Although Chris’s company had supported the Red Cross in several fundraising initiatives over the years, he was unaware of the level of support provided, particularly on a local level. After experiencing it first-hand, he decided to give a year-end gift to the Red Cross with the foundation he founded, through which he donates 100 percent of the proceeds from his speaking and writing engagements to local organizations that have a major impact in Tarrant and surrounding counties.
“The night of our fire, the Red Cross gave us immediate comfort and support but they also provided critical information as to what would take place in the days and weeks to follow,” explained Chris. “Like me, most people who find themselves in a disaster aren't pros when it comes to what steps to take and how to even move forward after the firemen leave the scene. Red Cross provided that information and critical support during the event. Our goal is to see that amazing work continue.”
Chris says the Red Cross fits the giving structure he looks for when deciding on what causes to contribute to: an organization with low overhead, which allows more donor dollars to go directly to those in need.

On Christmas day, the Red Cross assisted 25 families facing home fires in the Dallas area alone. Additionally, we continue to provide support to Sandy victims as part of one of 113 large-scale disaster responses in 2012. If you’re thinking of making a year-end gift, please consider the Red Cross. Visit RedCross.org for more information.

I hope others DON'T have to experience the amazing Red Cross volunteers personally,” says Chris. “But when people are in need, the Red Cross is there. It's about people serving their neighbors in the most critical time of need and no one does it better.”


To make a tax-deductible year end gift to the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. 

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