A review of 2012 emergency response

We all heard the dire predictions about a busy wildfire season in 2012, and it certainly did come to fruition here in Southwest Colorado. American Red Cross volunteers responded to and supported six wildfires in the counties we serve.

The Weber Fire, near Mancos, was the largest blaze. We opened shelters for displaced residents, fed firefighters and law-enforcement personnel supporting the fire and provided liaison support for each of the incidents.

We provided all of this assistance with this prolonged wildfire season with donations from local residents. We do not receive any funding from the federal or state government. We have to raise all of the money we use for these responses in the communities we serve. We appreciate all of you who took time to write that check or drop that $20 by our offices. It truly does make a difference.

In addition to our wildfire responses, we responded to 18 house fires in the area. When we respond to assist with a home that has been damaged or destroyed by fire, we provide for the immediate needs of those residents with lodging, financial assistance for food and clothing replacement, and referrals to other agencies that can assist them in their recovery. We assisted 47 displaced residents in 2012.

That also was accomplished with donations from local residents. We also provide food and refreshments for local firefighters on the scene of those house fires. That allows them to continue to operate at the scene of a disaster without having to worry about their own needs being taken care of.

What can you do to help us continue to provide these services in 2013? Your financial donations always are welcome and most certainly needed. Remember us when making that end-of-the-year donation for tax deductions.

We always can use actual hard goods that we pass along to our disaster clients. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors, diapers, baby wipes and other personal-care items can be donated at the Southwest Colorado chapter office.

You can donate snacks such as granola and protein bars, beef jerky, bandanas, lip balm, small sunscreen bottles and hand sanitizer that we will place in firefighter care kits. We also need of cases of water and sports drinks that we will pass along to emergency response personnel.

There are many ways you can help support the local chapter.

Thank you to each of you who helped us in 2012. We are thankful that we are here to serve the community during times of crisis. With your continued support in 2013, we will be there any time and anywhere our assistance is needed.

Thank you to the dedicated local Red Cross volunteers who give up time away from their friends and family to serve our clients and emergency response personnel 365 days a year.

Blessings to you all during this holiday season.

Cindi Shank is executive director of the Southwest Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross.