American Red Cross volunteer April Thomas is seeking resources and volunteers in the Helena-West Helena area.
American Red Cross volunteer April Thomas is seeking resources and volunteers in the Helena-West Helena area. According to Thomas, the American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies nearly half of the nation's blood, teaches lifesaving skills, provides international humanitarian aid and supports military members and their families. “We respond when someone has a fire or there is a natural disaster in Phillips County but we are always looking for donations, volunteers, buildings that are up to par so we can centralize supplies in all different areas and locations within Phillips County,” commented Thomas. Thomas explained that the Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. “We are currently seeking empty buildings, food pantries, and buildings that can be used for the storage of water and other supplies as well,” said Thomas. Currently, the Phillips County Red Cross has a space at city hall where they can store files and supplies but they have run out of room and are seeking other entities assistance in the area such as churches and schools. “We really need buildings that can be used as shelters for those who have nowhere to go,” commented Thomas. City Clerk Sandi Ramsey stated that firefighter Brad Thomas, who is also a Red Cross of Phillips County representative, contacts individuals in need right away and is on scene in any fire situation to ensure that services are rendered to those who need them. “We're not just a blood drive, but disaster relief that focuses on meeting people's immediate emergency needs caused by disaster. When disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and emotional health services but these are all provided through donations and funds raised through fundraisers,” Thomas continued. Ramsey stated that in the past the city has opened up the Helena Community Center and provided cots and other bedding needed and that the city would look into providing space there as needed for water storage. “It takes 24 to 72 hours to get 100 percent of the help needed,” added Thomas. Council member Jay Hollowell asked if the National Guard Armory is a resource and Thomas explained that they could provide storage for water and space but only in emergency situations. “We can have access to the side gate but not to the building itself,” commented Thomas. Thomas stated that Henrietta Wilson of Lake View has given the Red Cross permission to store water and supplies in the old Lake View High School. “We will also contact the Helena-West Helena School district as well and see if they would be willing to allow us space for storage,” continued Thomas. Mayor Arnell Willis stated that the community college would be a possible shelter but informed the council that if the hospital were to have to be evacuated, the college would then have to house their patients due to the back up generators and space available. For more information on how you can help the Red Cross of Phillips County or become a volunteer contact 870-714-2826