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Red Cross is volunteers
AP RedCross 09
Liberty County High School student and Red Cross volunteer Calisha Griffin loads the emergency response vehicle with comfort care kits. - photo by Alena Parker / Coastal Courier
As this year's National Volunteer Week ends, Red Cross volunteer Pamela La Fountain wants people to know the organization is not just about giving blood and needs help year-round.
"What we do is so important to the community. But when most people hear Red Cross they think we want blood and run the other way," she said.
La Fountain has worked with the Red Cross since 2005 and knows first-hand how much the non-profit organization depends on volunteers to meet the needs of those in the community who lack resources.
Working hands and a willingness to help others is what make volunteers, according to La Fountain.
Mark Hunt, coordinator of the Liberty branch of the Savannah American Red Cross, calls volunteers "concerned citizens that really want to help."
And people can find places to volunteer in various departments, from office work to helping disaster victims.
When she first joined the Red Cross, La Fountain requested to just work in the background.
But she changed her mind during Hurricane Katrina when she spent three weeks in Baton Rouge, helping victims of the disaster.
"I found that contact with the client is the most rewarding," La Fountain said.
"They're the most incredibly thankful people you would ever meet."
Calisha Griffin, a senior at Liberty High also knows how thankful people who receive help from the Red Cross and volunteers are.
"You can see it on their face," she said.
Griffin started volunteering with the Red Cross as a way to satisfy the community service requirement to graduate. Since December her newfound passion made her stick around, even after she got all her hours.
"I realized I really liked being here," she said.
"It's a great experience for me," Griffin explained. "Now when I go to college, I'm going to find a local Red Cross and join that one as well."
As a bonus, Red Cross volunteers also set their own schedules.
"The amount of time a person volunteers is totally up to the individual," La Fountain said. "Even a few hours a month is extremely helpful to a volunteer-based organization."
Especially since the Red Cross in Liberty County responds to a lot of home fires, it is nearly impossible to predict when volunteers will be needed.
"We need volunteers to come now to get trained, so when a disaster happens they're already prepared," Hunt explained.
During a disaster, like a fire, the Red Cross provides families with needed food, clothing and temporary housing.
La Fountain explained how many of the clients do not have homeowners insurance or it may just take a few days before the homeowner can access it. But the situation requires immediate action. That is when the Red Cross steps in.
"They're at their most vulnerable point when they've lost everything and completely dependent on anybody that can help them," La Fountain explained.
She has been the captain of a Disaster Action Team and now focuses on recruiting and training new volunteers.
All volunteers must have a clear background check and are trained in CPR, first aid and shelter operations. Many are also cross-trained to fill in where needed.
For more information on how you can volunteer, call the Red Cross at 876-3975 or visit
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