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Kalispell mayor recognizes American Red Cross Month

March 10, 2017 GMT

In a mayoral proclamation during the city council meeting Monday night, Kalispell Mayor Mark Johnson declared March to be American Red Cross Month and urged support of the organization and its humanitarian mission.

Johnson deemed this month a time to honor the volunteers, blood donors and financial contributors who bring help and hope to people during times of emergency.

“May I never have to call you,” Johnson said, “but I know you’re there if we need you.”

According to Red Cross spokesperson Joe Kingan, Montana’s Red Cross volunteers responded to 223 local emergencies, assisted 257 military families and trained 10,123 people in lifesaving skills in 2016.

As part of the Home Fire Campaign, Kingan said volunteers visited 708 homes, installed 1,881 smoke alarms and assisted 528 households with developing home fire evacuation plans.

“In Kalispell, we have a long history of helping our neighbors in need,” Johnson said in his proclamation. “We applaud our heroes here in Kalispell who give of themselves to assist their neighbors when they need a helping hand.”

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According to Red Cross statistics, the organization responds to a community disaster every eight minutes, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities for the affected.

BECKY HOWARD and her two daughters lost everything in a fire that destroyed their Lakeside home in February. The family managed to escape the blaze unharmed, but the physical and emotional toll of the disaster has stayed with them.

“Talk about someone who steps in in a time of crisis,” Howard said. “I had never dealt with the Red Cross, but they helped with a lot more than just a place to stay.”

Howard said the organization provided blankets and other necessities in the days after the fire, and they also had a nurse calling to check on them.

Howard has since found a place to live that will allow her girls to attend the same schools, and they anticipate moving in April.

“If I were to ever donate to any cause, and I will because I talk to my girls about paying it forward, it would definitely be the Red Cross,” Howard said.

The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the public to perform its mission.

Across the nation they shelter, feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters and reach internationally to provide humanitarian aid and support military members and their families.

They supply about 40 percent of the nation’s blood and teach life-saving skills, including lifeguarding, CPR and more.

“There are so many ways to contribute to our mission,” said Fernández-Gevaert, a spokesperson for the Red Cross. “When you sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross, we work with you to find a role that is both challenging and fulfilling.”

For more information, volunteer opportunities or to donate to the American Red Cross of Montana, visit www.redcross.org/montana or call 1-800-272-6668.

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or mtaylor@dailyinterlake.com.