About Us FAQS

What is the largest disaster the American Red Cross has ever dealt with?
Who founded the American Red Cross?
What is the Mission of the American Red Cross?
What symbols are used other than a red cross used by other National Societies within the Movement?
What are the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement?
U.S. Armed Forces have highly skilled medical staff as part of their fighting force, why does the American Red Cross send its members into battle?
Is the American Red Cross part of the U.S. government?
Why won't the Red Cross accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies-doesn't every little bit help?
What can I do to help?
How can the Red Cross help me?
Where can I give blood?
Who founded the International Red Cross?

What is the largest disaster the American Red Cross has ever dealt with?

The 2005 hurricane season is the largest, most costly disaster relief operation in the nationís history. The American people pledged an estimated $2.116 billion for the cost for its response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. More than 225,000 Red Cross disaster relief workers, 95 percent of which were volunteers, were able to provided more than 3.4 million overnight stays in nearly 1,200 shelters across 27 states and the District of Columbia. We served more than 34 million meals and provided emergency financial assistance to nearly 1.4 million families - more than 4 million people.
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Who founded the American Red Cross?

Clara Barton (1821-1912) dominates the early history of the American Red Cross, which was modeled after the International Red Cross. She did not originate the Red Cross idea, but she was the first person to establish a lasting Red Cross Society in America. She successfully organized the American Association of the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881. Created to serve America in peace and in war, during times of disaster and national calamity, Barton's organization took its service beyond that of the International Red Cross Movement by adding disaster relief to battlefield assistance. She served as the organization's volunteer president until 1904.
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What is the Mission of the American Red Cross?

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, will provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
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What symbols are used other than a red cross used by other National Societies within the Movement?

Although the red cross is not a religious symbol, some societies view it as such. The symbol of the red crescent is used instead of the red cross by societies in most Islamic countries; and the Magen David Adom, or Red Shield of David, is used in Israel.
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What are the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement?

Humanity: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

Impartiality: It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

Neutrality: In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Independence: The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Voluntary Service: It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

Unity: There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

Universality: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.
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U.S. Armed Forces have highly skilled medical staff as part of their fighting force, why does the American Red Cross send its members into battle?

In 1905, the U.S. Congress granted a charter to the American Red Cross that required it to act "in accord with the military authorities as a medium of communication between the people of the United States and their armed forces." Since then, the Red Cross has provided communications and other humanitarian services to help members of the U.S. military and their families around the world. Living and working in the same difficult situations and dangerous environment as U.S. troops, Red Cross staff have given comfort to soldiers thousands of miles from home by providing emergency messages, about deaths and births, for example, comfort kits and blank cards for troops to send home to loved ones.
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Is the American Red Cross part of the U.S. government?

The American Red Cross functions independently of the government but works closely with government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during times of major crises. It is responsible for giving aid to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to disaster victims at home and abroad. It does this through services that are consistent with its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement allowing the Red Cross to stay neutral and impartial.
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Why won't the Red Cross accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies-doesn't every little bit help?

The Red Cross does not accept individual donations of material items (called "in-kind" donations) because receipt of such items can actually hamper relief efforts. The financial and personnel cost of receiving, sorting, transporting goods and ensuring the quality and cleanliness of items donated by individual households is very high. It does not allow for individuals and families to receive what they uniquely need in their own size and shape.

The traditional method of providing Red Cross assistance is with a voucher, redeemable at local stores and paid for with donation dollars, that enables victims to purchase what they need in the correct sizes and in accordance with their own taste. Making even these small decisions helps individuals begin to take control of their lives and their recovery. In addition, this process helps channel money into the local economy and thus aids the community in recovery from disaster. The Red Cross does accept large corporate donations of food, bottled water and other items needed by the disaster-affected communities.
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What can I do to help?

There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross to support all of the organization's services. People who wish to volunteer should contact their local American Red Cross chapter because the vast majority of volunteer opportunities are typically found within an individual's local community. International disaster relief workers are drawn from a pool of paid and volunteer staff with extensive prior experience. Click here to sign up to become a volunteer. There are many ways to give to the American Red Cross. We accept checks or money orders, or you can charge your donation on American Express, Discover, Master Card, or Visa.

Mail a check or money order to:
American Red Cross, Greater Cleveland Chapter
Attn: Financial Development Office
3747 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115

To donate on our secure Internet site click here or call 216.361.4878.
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How can the Red Cross help me?

The Red Cross is committed to saving lives and easing suffering. This diverse organization serves humanity and helps you by providing relief to victims of disaster, both locally and globally. The Red Cross is responsible for half of the nation's blood supply and blood products.

The Red Cross gives health and safety training to the public and provides emergency social services to U.S. military members and their families. In the wake of an earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, hurricane or other disaster, it provides relief services to communities across the country.
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Where can I give blood?

Individuals wishing to make a blood donation can call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit the Blood Services Northern Ohio Region Web site.
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Who founded the International Red Cross?

The Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy, between the armies of imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Some 40,000 men lay dead or dying on the battlefield and the wounded were lacking medical attention. Dunant organized local people to bind the soldiers' wounds and to feed and comfort them. On his return, he called for the creation of national relief societies to assist those wounded in war, and pointed the way to the future Geneva Conventions.

In October 1863, The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was created in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide nonpartisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. The Red Cross emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality and was to be used by national relief societies. In August 1864, the representatives of 12 governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. The extraordinary efforts of Henry Dunant led to the eventual establishment of the International Red Cross. Today, the Red Cross Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 175 countries, including the American Red Cross of the United States.
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