One year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, people have stepped up to address the emotional needs of families reeling from the coronavirus and 2020’s record-breaking disasters.

In San Diego and Imperial Counties and across the country, trained American Red Cross disaster mental health and spiritual care volunteers have had more than 53,000 conversations to provide emotional support to people in 2020 — which had the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters in a single year. In addition, trained volunteers have provided free crisis counseling through the Red Cross Virtual Family Assistance Center for grieving families during COVID-19.

“The past year has been overwhelming for many in our community, and yet through it all, people are caring for one another,” said Sean Mahoney, CEO, Red Cross Southern California Region. “When help can’t wait, our selfless volunteers provide families the support they need during emergencies. During Red Cross Month in March, we honor this humanitarian spirit and ask you to join us by donating, giving blood, volunteering or taking a class to learn lifesaving skills.”

For nearly 80 years, U.S. presidents have proclaimed March as Red Cross Month to recognize people giving back through its lifesaving mission — which is powered by more than 90% volunteers.

They include people like Pat Lloyd who supports each Red Cross line of service in some shape or form, including Blood Services, Disaster Services, Service to the Armed Forces, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program and more. A long-time volunteer, Pat has also played an integral role in supporting disaster prevention and relief initiatives throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties and is actively involved in the Home Fire Campaign. Pat helps educate community members on home fire prevention efforts and installs free smoke alarms to help prevent home fire deaths and injuries in our communities.

Volunteers also include Tim and Gina Glover, a husband/wife duo helping serve the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross by donating their time to deliver blood products to local area hospitals as Transportation Specialists. “It’s extremely fulfilling and just a wonderful way to give back to the community,” said Gina Glover.

A 2020 study on a rise in volunteer experiences added to LinkedIn profiles shows that more people want to help others during this unprecedented time. Last year, more than 70,000 people across the country became new Red Cross volunteers largely to support urgent disaster and essential blood donation needs. In addition, thousands of COVID-19 survivors — many new to blood donation — rolled up a sleeve to give convalescent plasma and help patients battling COVID-19.

You can help ensure that families don’t face emergencies alone — especially during a pandemic:

Donate: Support our Disaster Relief efforts at redcross.org/GivingDay. A gift of any size makes a difference to provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support and other assistance. Your donation will be part of our annual Giving Day on March 24 to aid families in need across the country.

Volunteer: Visit redcross.org/VolunteerToday for most-needed positions and local opportunities.

Give Blood: If you’re healthy and feeling well, make an appointment at RedCrossBlood.org. Your donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. As a thank you, those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma on March 15-26 will receive a Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Learn Lifesaving Skills: Take a class in skills like CPR and first aid to help in an emergency at redcross.org/TakeAClass. Online options include our Psychological First Aid for COVID-19 course, which covers how to manage stress and support yourself and others.

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