The holidays are a time for community. As we come together with loved ones over the next few weeks, it’s important for us to remember the ways that we can be a beacon of hope for those who need our support and care.
I think of the families whose lives have been turned upside down by emergencies, especially by the growing frequency and intensity of disasters. In fact, 2023 is a record year of extreme climate and weather events with each causing losses exceeding $1 billion. We experienced this firsthand in the lower Hudson Valley just a few months ago, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia caused severe flooding in Mamaroneck and displaced dozens of residents to a Red Cross Shelter for the second time since September 2021.
Plus, over the past decade, the number of billion-dollar disasters has increased by 80% in the U.S. — all on top of smaller, everyday crises like home fires, which are no less devastating to the families coping with them.
Year-round, local volunteers from the American Red Cross Metro New York North Chapter answered the call to help in people’s darkest hours, providing refuge, food and comfort for survivors of wildfires in Maui, flooding in the northeastern United States, and disasters big and small right here in the lower Hudson Valley.
How can Hudson Valley residents support the Red Cross?
But with no signs of the climate crisis slowing down, we must work together to do more:
Please join us to give comfort and hope by visiting redcross.org to make a financial donation. You can also help by booking a time to give blood or platelets, as weather events have forced the cancellation of 23% more blood drives in 2023 than the average of the prior nine years. The need for blood is constant, with red blood cells having a shelf life of just 42 days, so when a blood drive is cancelled — it has an immediate impact on the national blood supply.
Blood drives are held regularly throughout the area, and you can find one that is convenient for you at redcrossblood.org. You don’t need to know your blood type in advance in order to donate, and if you download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App — you can even track your health history information, including blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, and pulse rate.
You can also help your neighbors experiencing disasters through some of the worst days of their lives by becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Our Disaster Action Team helps hundreds of lower Hudson Valley families each year recover from disasters, such as home fires. These incredible people respond night and day to help neighbors in need, and you can sign up to join them by going to redcross.org/volunteer.
It takes all of us to care for one another. During the holiday season, turn your compassion into action for the families who depend on our collective support.
Stephanie Dunn Ashley is CEO of the American Red Cross' Metro New York North Chapter.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Red Cross needs support to face climate crisis