A Little Goes a Long Way

Submitted by Sara Bloom, Sheltering Volunteer during the Creek Fire in Central California.

“Cards are my thing, I enjoy making and sending them out to friends and family, and with the pandemic, I finally ended up with more time to make them.  The ‘hug’ card I made last year was a design I had made a while ago for a friend who had lost a loved one.”

Did you feel that? It’s a hug! Thinking of you during these difficult times.

COVID-19 changed the world, and it also changed how the American Red Cross would safely shelter and care for people displaced by natural disasters during a pandemic.

“Last fall, when I showed up for my first volunteer shifts at one of the hotels acting as a shelter, out of habit, I went to shake the hand of my supervisor. When he said, “we can’t do that right now,” I realized I was going to have to find other ways to communicate.

I would eventually serve mostly at the Local Assistance Center in Clovis. When I started interacting with the fire victims, I saw some were visibly shaken and upset, but due to COVID, there was little we could do to offer physical emotional support, like a hug or touch of their arm, to let them know that they would be okay. 

That was when I had a ‘light bulb’ moment about making the cards to at least offer a ‘non-physical’ hug, to those needing some extra emotional support. 

At that point, I found my old file with in my design program, and started drawing and cutting the pieces with my Cricut.  All the arms were cut by my Cricut, but I eventually went to Kinko’s and made copies of the front and inside of the card, to expedite the process.  There was still a few steps left to complete and assemble the cards, so I enlisted the help of fellow volunteers that were sitting with me at the Red Cross table at the Local Assistance Center.  Anyone that had helped me fold, cut, glue or color the cards, I had them sign the inside of the card with me. 

Sara Bloom and Red Cross Volunteers Gloria “Yoly” Miller and Yolanda Shahbazian

Thanks to my helpers, I think around 150 cards were made.  Many were handed out at the LAC, and the recipients were touched and appreciative.  I also had sent some of the cards with the health services team that were travelling to other areas and they handed out some there as well.  I know one of the nurses actually called me to tell me she had given a card to one lady, and she instantly broke down in tears of gratitude after reading it.  Exactly the feeling I was hoping to share!”

By Sara Bloom

Sara volunteered days on end supporting hotel shelters and assistance centers during the Creek Fire disaster relief efforts and was recognized by leadership for her stellar contributions.

Any leftover cards Sara made would eventually make their way to Kern County, almost exactly one year later, for the residents affected by the French Fire in Lake Isabella. Evacuees were beyond grateful for a handmade item made by a friendly stranger.

At the Red Cross, we are consistently blown away by the generosity of volunteers who go above and beyond to help comfort and care their neighbors in need. Like Sara, they utilize their unique talents to help others during emergencies like the Creek Fire. Thank you, Sara!

Red Cross is recruiting additional volunteers as we approach peak wildfire and hurricane season. Interested in learning how you can donate your talents? Head to redcross.org/volunteertoday.

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