March is Red Cross Month

March is Red Cross month.  This is the 80th year the country is marking the occasion.  President Franklin Roosevelt made the designation in 1943 to bring more attention to the organization and its noble mission.

The Red Cross has an active presence in Montgomery County, surrounding jurisdictions, and the state of Maryland.

Honoring the Red Cross

Members of the organization will be in Annapolis on Thursday, March 16,  to meet with state legislators to showcase some of the good work the Red Cross is doing with the help of its volunteers who live in Maryland.

Throughout the month of March, people may see buildings or landmarks in our region lit up in red to help mark Red Cross month.  They also might see billboards or digital signs on buildings to encourage people to donate blood or volunteer with the Red Cross.

The organization is always looking for more volunteers.  Ninety percent of the Red Cross’ workforce is made up of volunteers. The group has five distinct missions:

Red Cross Mission

Biomedical services-The American Red Cross is the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. Each year, nearly 4 million people donate blood through the Red Cross, helping to provide more than 40 percent of America’s blood supply.  Here in Montgomery County, volunteers collected 17,977 units of blood at 846 local blood drives in 2022.

Disaster services

The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States every year.  Those can include home fires, and weather related incidents such as hurricanes and earthquakes.  The Red Cross assisted 139 families in Montgomery County impacted by a disaster last year.

Service to the Armed Forces

The Red Cross helps members of the military and their families when they deal with unique challenges such as support for wounded warriors and veterans.  The Red Cross on average helps about 150,000 military families and veterans each year. The organization provided help to 883 members of the military, veterans, and their families in Montgomery County last year.

International Services

The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. It responds to disasters, builds safer communities and teaches the rules of war.

Health and Safety Services

The Red Cross is the nation’s leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, First Aid and Lifeguard Training. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in the organization’s training programs. Here in Montgomery County, the Red Cross trained 13,354 individuals in First Aid, CPR and AED, water safety, babysitting and other lifesaving skills last year.

How People Can Help

People often reach out to the Red Cross when a disaster strikes.  Some people want to donate clothes or non-perishable items, but the most useful contribution is money.

“Actually the best way for people to help in a disaster is with a cash or financial donation. The reasons for that are plentiful. When we’re able to use the financial gifts that people give, we’re able to be very flexible in making sure that the needs of a specific disaster are met with the financial resources that people are giving,” said Curtis Luthye, the executive director for the Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick counties chapter of the American Red Cross .

Blood Donations

In addition to financial contributions, the need for blood donations is constant.  Part of the reason is because blood cannot be stored for very long.

“Only three percent of the U.S. population donates blood.  One of our long-term goals is to really increase that number.  We are always looking for people to donate and would encourage people to donate on a regular basis,” Luthye said.

Overall the Red Cross is serving the community in vital ways.  Luthye said the work the organization does in Montgomery County and throughout Maryland is really incredible.

“I think the work to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency is really one of the highest mission statements I can imagine,” Luthye said.

People who want more information about the American Red Cross Red should reach out to

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