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Local Red Cross accepts new challenges

The East Escambia Chapter of the American Red Cross has been undergoing a series of changes during the past year, but those changes haven’t slowed the agency down when it comes to helping others.

Chris Smith, interim director of the local office, is continuing to volunteer for the agency.

“I love to volunteer,” said Smith. “That is the reason I am also a volunteer for the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department and the Escambia County Rescue Squad.”

That spirit of volunteering is one reason so many families have been given a helping hand through Red Cross efforts in the Brewton area.

According to Sarah Nall, board member, the needs of the county continues to grow.

“From July 2009 through June 2010, our organization has assisted 277 clients with utilities in the amount of $16,998,” said Nall. “We have assisted nine clients with medical for $280; eight clients in disasters in the amount of $11,435; and fed 1,032 families at a cost of $5,676.”

The Escambia County Community Enabled has partnered with the Bay Area Food Bank and the food bank is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the office on Douglas Avenue.

Goodwill and Easter Seals have long been associated with the Red Cross. Smith said they are working together to furnish another need.

“When a person donates items such as household goods or clothing to a Goodwill store, a designation can be made as to whether it goes to Red Cross or the Escambia County Community Enabled.”

Mattie Roberson, program manager for Goodwill said this is a good way to make sure location donations stay local.

“Those donations are kept within the local area,” Roberson said.

“A receipt, in the form of gift certificates are then designated to those in need and they can go by the Goodwill and use them as vouchers to get whatever they need. The Red Cross determines the amounts that each person might receive.”

Smith said the communities needs continue to grow and change and volunteers throughout the area will take steps to make sure continued help is available.

“Donations are a key for us,” Smith said. “That’s true for any agency. We are in need of a variety of donations all year including food, clothing, money, just about anything can help us help those who find themselves in need.”

To make a donation to the East Escambia Chapter of the American Red Cross or to the Escambia County Enabled, Inc., contact volunteers with the agencies by calling 867-3426 or visit their offices at 1014 Douglas Ave.