Friday, September 28, 2012

Donors See Their Gifts at Work at Wildfire Stewardship Events

While the devastating wildfires across the state inspired many to donate funds to the Red Cross, many donors may not know the whole story of how the Red Cross uses their gifts in response to such unprecedented disasters. Many of us know the basics of disaster response (blankets, food, water and other necessities), but the Red Cross' response to this year's fires involved much more. Two events in September honored donors who made this response possible, and offered an inside look at how donor gifts were put to good use.

Eric Corliss, who served as the Red Cross job director for the Red Cross Colorado wildfires disaster relief operation this summer, gave a presentation at the Denver event, held Sept. 25 at the Brown Palace. Corliss detailed the wide range of assistance provided by the Red Cross throughout this year's wildfire season. From sifters (for use in ashes, to find whatever items a house fire has left behind) to services that provide evacuated children with toys and other comforts from home, the Red Cross efforts at fire-affected areas went well beyond meeting the basic needs of food and shelter.

Corliss also presented at a similar informational event in Fort Collins, hosted by New Belgium Brewery.  At this event, held a short distance from where disaster response efforts were focused during the High Park fire, Eric's presentation was joined by testimonies from a resident who lost his home during the wildfires and by volunteer Adam Rae, who told what it was like to volunteer during such a major response.

Donors in attendance at the Denver event included Joann Alam and Marion Wells, who made the trip to Denver from Parachute for the evening. Wells stated that she is a regular donor to The Red Cross, citing a family history with the organization. Karen Suhaka, a Denverite, was inspired by the wildfires to make a larger gift than usual. "I'm usually a $10 per tragedy kind of girl," she said. "But when it's close to home, it's different."

Also included in the program were these two videos from clients involved in the Red Cross wildfire response. The first tells the story of Patti and Jerry Ellman, who continued to volunteer while evacuated, and the second is a testimonial from Waldo Canyon evacuee and Denver Bronco Ben Garland.

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