Thursday, December 27, 2012

Telluride community comes together for kids & disaster relief

By Neal Elinoff, Western Colorado Blogger

A little over a week ago, one of my colleagues at work suggested that we have a Holiday party in our jewelry store and invite the community to bring an unwrapped toy as a price for entry. We'd have one of his former buddies from the Marines get us a spiffy new recruit fresh out of boot camp to accept the toys and bring them to the Marines' last flight out for their annual US Toys for Tots Christmas program.  We decided to make it our first, annual community Holiday party.

Telluride is isolated, remote and has only one toy store, which closes early. We needed another charity that would be a good match for people who want to write a check instead of bringing a toy. Naturally, as the Western Colorado blogger for the Red Cross, the American Red Cross became our cash beneficiary.

With tourists finally arriving after a sleepy start to our ski season, Saturday, December 22nd would be our target date.

We put ads in the newspapers. Put up a banner. Passed out flyers at the hotels and the ski clubs. We arranged for a wonderful acoustical string duet and the best Thai restaurant in America to cater it.

We partied from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. We collected boxes of toys and over $1,200 in cash and checks for the American Red Cross.

It was a very good night. Disadvantaged children everywhere will be remembered with new toys. The American Red Cross was remembered in our community for their contribution to Service members and victims of disasters.

Thank you to everyone in the Telluride community who helped make this first-ever event a success.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A message of thanks and hope from our CEO

I'd like to take a moment to reflect during these closing days of 2012, as we gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays.

Our Colorado community and our country have endured so much this year - from the Lower North Fork Fire and Waldo Canyon to Superstorm Sandy, from Aurora to New Town, and all the heart-wrenching moments in between.

Whether an act of nature or an act of man, it can be difficult to fathom the depth of loss. We don’t pretend to have the answers as to why such things happen, but we can tell you this: time and time again, we have seen that when disaster strikes and darkness descends, good people come together to extend compassion and aid to those affected most dearly.

While the lives lost cannot be revived and the homes and treasures lost can never be fully recovered, as a community and nation we have experienced first-hand the outpouring of kindness that human beings are capable of – the type of selfless giving that helps dispel despair and bring hope that, yes, together we can triumph over tragedy.

For the American Red Cross, tens of thousands of people in Colorado and across our country gave generously to help when fires destroyed livelihoods in our home state, and again when Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast.
   Hundreds of volunteers in communities all over Colorado gave their time to answer the call for help, working 12- to 16-hour days for weeks at a time to help bring food, shelter, emotional support and basic health services to victims.
   More than 2,000 of your fellow Colorado residents give their time on a regular basis rendering acts of kindness in response to the small disasters that occur daily and helping us train people to prevent and respond to emergencies like heart attacks and home fires. Many other not-for-profit organizations can say similar things this year and nearly every year.

Despite all the difficulties we’ve faced in 2012, I’m convinced now more than ever that people are inherently good, and collectively the good overcomes.
   For every dollar that you have donated to any non-profit, thank you; your gifts have directly helped people in need.
   For every hour you have volunteered, thank you; your time has not only accomplished good work, but has helped build faith in humanity.
   And for every tear you have shed and prayer you have said, thank you; your compassion is the spirit that empowers us all to take action when faced with the worst, and to rebuild with hope for a better tomorrow.

Wishing you all peace and kindness during this season of giving,
Gino Greco,
Regional CEO, Red Cross Mile High Region

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be Prepared For The Apocalypse (Or Anything Slightly More Realistic)

Ok, let’s face it: in all likelihood, the world will not end, nor will any other global catastrophe strike on December 21st (see evidence provided by NASA or presented by The History Channel from the oldest-known Mayan calendar). But the buzz around this “event” does present a great opportunity to discuss preparedness. We at the Red Cross love to be prepared, and we love it when Coloradans - and anyone else, for that matter - are prepared, too.

Take the alleged-impending-doom this coming Friday, for example. Denverites, do you have an escape plan in case of an alien invasion of the Denver metro area? Have you discussed where to meet with family members in case of any emergency requiring an evacuation?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Driving Tips All the Experts Agree On

With widespread snow predicted for Colorado, the American Red Cross, AAA, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) have collaborated to incorporate each agency’s expertise into a comprehensive list of winter driving advice for motorists.

The agencies recommend the following:
1. Compile a Winter Safety Kit. A Winter Safety Kit will help you be prepared in the event that your vehicle becomes disabled, you're caught in traffic for extended amounts of time, or you are stranded. The items suggested below can be purchased at most grocery and superstores for around $50.

Monday, December 17, 2012

One MHRC Volunteer Tells Her Call Center Story

In response to the overwhelming destruction of Hurricane Sandy, the Mile High chapter operated an overflow call center to field calls from affected areas. The eight-day effort, made possible by 42 volunteers working 126 shifts, helped hundreds in the area hardest hit by the hurricane find resources for food, shelter, healthcare providers and other urgently-needed services. One of our own bloggers, Mary Hastings, took a shift on the call center. Here is her story of giving hope and help to hurricane victims over a thousand miles away.

When I crawled out of bed that morning, I followed my normal routine to get ready, which included watching the news for the latest developments on the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. I could barely fathom what it would be like to lose everything the way so many had during this catastrophic event. Like so many, I wanted to do something to help. Fortunately, the American Red Cross gave me that opportunity.  
The overflow call center helped individuals seeking healthcare, food and shelter resources in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

I volunteered at the Mile High Call Center in Denver the first afternoon the national office had asked us to open to handle the tremendous overflow of calls from people needing help in New Jersey and New York. Initially there was a deluge of calls and with each call I answered I was moved by how grateful people were just to hear a calm, friendly voice on the other end. Lives had been turned upside down and people were desperately searching for food, shelter and clothing.

We had calls from people trying to get to shelters, from others trying to feed families and others frantic to help the elderly. One caller was crying because she was unable to drive anywhere to get her five children (including an infant) to safety; she was recovering from major surgery at home and no one could get to her to help.

A Mile High Red Cross volunteer at the overflow call center

We did our best to direct people to shelters and other resources, but what struck me most were the number of “thank you” and “GOD bless you” messages I heard. Through all of the chaos, people knew we cared and that made the experience very meaningful for me.

When I crawled back into bed that night, I knew how fortunate I was to lie down in a bed and pull the flannel sheets over my shoulders. An overwhelming peace came over me because, thanks to the American Red Cross, I was able to do something to help.

These are a few of our favorite things - Holiday Mail edition

Coloradans sent in a whopping 19,512 cards as part of the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, in which the Red Cross and its partners collect holiday greetings from the public and distribute them to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.

We screen and sort the cards first to make sure they're safe for the recipients, and so we'd like to take a moment to share just a few of the cards that made us laugh, smile, or get a little teary-eyed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Level 3 Communications Employees Provide Over 13,000 Holiday Cards For Military

Level 3 Communications printed special holiday cards and distributed them to Level 3 offices all over North America in order to participate in the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, in which the public sends a touch of home to members of the military and veterans. What Level 3 got back was an astonishing response, with more than 13,000 cards signed and returned to the Red Cross.

During a special event on Dec. 12, 2012, Level 3 Communications employees in Broomfield rolled up their sleeves and assisted with the second stage of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program: sorting through thousands of holiday cards the Red Cross received from the public so that Red Cross messengers can deliver them to the appropriate recipients starting the week of Dec. 17. The cards contain messages of hope, thanks and holiday greetings to the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. The cards will be delivered to active military stationed abroad and in the U.S., as well as to military reserves, veterans and their families.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Four Keys to Keeping your Furry Family Members Safe During the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for humans and animals alike, so here are some tips help keep your pets safe.

Many people consider pets to be part of the family – in fact, the majority of Americans give their dogs or cats presents during the holidays, according to several online polls. One gift the Red Cross urges pet lovers to consider giving this year is the gift of life: learn pet first aid and CPR to help your furry family member should emergency strike.

Spots are still open at the next Dog and Cat First Aid training in Denver, 6-10 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 19. Check it out and register here: 

Dog and Cat First Aid Guides are also available for purchase at  -- and the Red Cross is offering a 20% holiday discount on all class registrations and Red Cross store purchases through January 31, 2013. Use code HOLIDAY0113 at checkout.

  • During snowstorms dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost, so never let them off of their leash.
  • According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

Decorating for the holidays is an enjoyable time for families and including your furry companions can be fun yet dangerous.
  • Steer clear of toxic plants and dangerous decorations. Pets can choke on items like tinsel, bells and small ornaments.
  • Candles can pose a fire hazard and can easily be tipped over by pets or cause burns. Consider using non-flammable decorations to create your holiday glow.
There's more to worry about than gaining a few extra pounds when it comes to pets and holiday foods:
  • Try to keep your pets’ exercise and eating habits as close to normal as possible.
  • Chocolate is toxic to pets, and hard candies can pose a choking hazard. Make sure to store holiday treats in a pet-proof container or location.
  • When cooking, always keep pets (and children) at least 3 feet away from flammable surfaces like stove tops to prevent the risk of fire or injury.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thank you for supporting us on Colorado Gives Day!

Coloradans donate $83,464 to Red Cross on Colorado Gives Day

Coloradans demonstrated their generosity and their support for local Red Cross services by donating more than $80,000 to local Red Cross chapters in a 24-hour period for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 4, 2012.

Colorado Gives Day is a statewide initiative to inspire and unite donors to “give where they live” through online philanthropy. The Mile High Region of the Red Cross was one of more than 1,000 non-profits participating in this year’s event. Hundreds of donors gave to the Red Cross Mile High Region for a total of $83,464. To put it into perspective, this generous dollar amount could help the Red Cross:
  • Assist 167 local families that have been affected by a disaster or
  • Install 75 AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) or
  • Train 1,660 people in lifesaving skills like CPR.
“It was a really successful day for the American Red Cross Mile High Region, and we are grateful to all of our donors statewide for supporting our Colorado efforts,” said Jules Kelty, Senior Director Donor Relations. “Colorado Gives Day encourages us to ‘Give where you live,’ and these gifts will truly help the Red Cross help individuals and families in our local communities.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

Red Cross responds to 2 wildfires in northern Colorado

Dec. 3, 2012 - The Red Cross mobilized resources and operated a shelter and an evacuation center in response to two separate wildfires Friday through early Monday morning.

Red Cross workers opened a shelter at Estes Park High School early Saturday morning, Dec. 1, to provide a safe place for residents evacuating from the Fern Lake fire. About 50 residents had checked in to the shelter by 9 a.m. that morning. Red Cross workers staffed the shelter overnight Saturday, but no evacuees chose to stay overnight at the shelter. As some evacuations were lifted, the Red Cross closed the shelter after serving lunch on Sunday, leaving supplies and a team on standby in case the situation changed.

Around 4 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, Red Cross volunteers opened an evacuation center in the Livermore Community Church for residents evacuating from a fire in the Red Feathers Lake area. Fortunately, firefighters were able to make progress on the fire – a structure fire that turned into a wildfire – and evacuations were lifted around 5 a.m.

If There Are Reports of a Wildfire in Your Area:

• Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

• Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.

• Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.

• Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.

• Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.

• Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.

• Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.

• Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.

• When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.

• If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.

Find more information about wildfire safety, response and recovery at or by downloading the free Red Cross Wildfire App for iPhones and Android platforms. You can download the app from your Google Play or Apple store by searching the term "Red Cross."

In Larimer County go to to register for free emergency notifications if there is an evacuation notice issued in your area.