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March Declared Red Cross Month in Iowa

Last year, in Iowa alone, the Red Cross trained 63,000 people in life-saving skills. (American Red Cross)
Last year, in Iowa alone, the Red Cross trained 63,000 people in life-saving skills. (American Red Cross)
March 4, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowans are familiar with chapters of the American Red Cross in the state responding to calls for help in their communities, whether it's because of a natural disaster such as a tornado or a house fire that affects a single family. But they might not realize they've been doing it for a century; the first Red Cross chapter in Iowa was founded in Cedar Falls in 1916, making this year the group's centennial.

Kara Kelly, communications officer for the Red Cross in Iowa, said the group is unique in its ability to mobilize volunteers when needed.

"The reason the Red Cross is able to respond so quickly is because of the donations to our Disaster Relief Fund," she said. "That really makes it so we are able to move people very quickly. It also is because of the dedicated volunteers."

In the last fiscal year, the Red Cross responded to 718 local emergencies in Iowa and trained nearly 63,000 people in life-saving skills.

Kelly said the Red Cross is active in a variety of lower-profile ways as well, including assisting military families, coordinating blood drives and vaccinating children.

"I think people, when they think about volunteering for the Red Cross, they think 'disaster relief' only - and that's really not the only opportunity for folks to get involved," she said. "You know, the Red Cross is really about our people; it's really about the volunteers who take care of their communities - and we're really strong because of those individuals."

The Red Cross said that roughly 91 cents of every dollar the organization spends goes toward humanitarian services and programs.

Gov. Terry Branstad today will declare March as "Red Cross Month" in Iowa in a ceremony at the state Capitol.

More information is online at

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA