Red Cross GKC Chapter volunteers busy helping others in disasters during 2017


Red Cross volunteers in the Greater Kansas City Chapter responded to numerous home fires during 2017, helping those who were displaced by providing for immediate needs such as  food, clothing and lodging and working with them on  their long-term recovery (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

By Carl Manning
American Red Cross

For the Red Cross volunteers at the Greater Kansas City Chapter it was a very busy 2017 dealing with fires, floods, tornadoes and occasionally doing a little cat wrangling.

Homes fires accounted for the majority of disaster responses and assistance provided, although there were other disasters such as tornadoes, floods and hurricanes where volunteers from the GKC chapter responded.

Last year, the chapter provided disaster assistance to 2,928 people in the 15 counties it serves. Of that, 2,112 were people displaced by home fires with 1,013 of them in Jackson County.

In some cases, people were displaced when their homes caught fire and they had to flee for their lives. Others were forced out because of a fire in a nearby apartment rendered their place unlivable because smoke and water damage.

Those responding to the fires are members of the Disaster Action Team, or DAT, a specially trained group of Red Cross volunteers who arrive with firefighters and other first responders to provide comfort and care to those facing what likely is the worst time in this lives.

Cat saved
Cat rescued from apartment fire taken to animal shelter thanks to the Red Cross. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

DAT members talk to those displaced and provide for immediate needs such as food, clothing and lodging, often working with Red Cross partners such as church groups or community centers.

Red Cross caseworkers then work with those displaced to assist with their long-term recovery and any special needs they might have.

Often if a large number of people have been displaced by something like a fire in an apartment building, the Red Cross will open a shelter to provide a safe place for people to stay.

Sometimes DAT volunteers will go the extra mile to help out like providing a flashlight and helping a person searching for car keys or a wallet amid the ashes.

In one recent fire, a mother of two was forced to leave her cats behind when she and her children had to flee in the middle of the night because of a fire in an adjacent apartment.

Red Cross volunteer checks tornado damage in Oak Grove. (Red Cross photo by Sherri Odell)

The next morning, the tenant and a Red Cross volunteer returned and found the cats hiding under the bed and in a closet. The cats were rounded up and taken to a nearby animal shelter that works with the Red Cross to assist in such instances.

Last year was made even busier by a spate of natural disasters like the tornadoes that struck Oak Grove and Smithville. Red Cross volunteers were on the scene to assess damage to homes and provide initial recovery assistance. At both locations, the Red Cross was part of multi-agency resource centers set up with other agencies to help in the recovery process.

July and August brought repeated flash flooding in the Kansas City area where Red Cross volunteers provided assistance with such things as cleanup materials for residents dealing with flooded homes.

Red Cross volunteer provides food for those recovering from the Oak Grove tornado. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

But the assistance didn’t stop there. Many GKC Chapter volunteers also were busy helping out with flood recovery throughout southern Missouri and later in the year were part of the national response to hurricanes that devastated parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

As Red Cross volunteers start another year of service to others, they will be ready to help those in need. Time and circumstances may change many things, but one thing that won’t change will be their desire to help others.



Red Cross blood shortage prompts urgent call for donations this month



The American Red Cross has an urgent need for donors of all blood types to help address a winter shortage.

Severe winter weather in Missouri and other states has had a tremendous impact on blood donations. Nationally, more than 150 blood drives this month were forced to cancel causing over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

This is in addition to seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, and hectic holiday schedules collectively contributed to more than 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December.JULY BLood 3

While all blood types are urgently needed, there is a more critical need for the following blood donation types right now:

  • Type O negative: The blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
  • Type B negative: The blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients.
  • Type AB: The plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.

Every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.

While serving local hospitals is the first priority, the Red Cross can move blood products to where they’re needed most. This allows generous donors throughout the country to contribute to the national blood supply and potentially help patients locally and in disaster-affected areas.

 Eligible donors can schedule an appointment by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation by visiting from a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.

Locations of area blood donation opportunities in January:


St. Joseph: Jan. 23, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Red Cross, Northwest Missouri Chapter, 401 N. 12th St.

Kearney: Jan. 23, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., KCB Bank, 950 W. 92 Hwy.

Independence: Jan. 19, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Bass Pro Shop Independence, 18001 Bass Pro Dr.

Kansas City:  Jan. 11, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. KCMO Aviation Blood Drive, 601 S. Brasilia.
Jan. 12, Noon – 4 p.m., Boys & Girls Club of Greater KC, 2405 Elmwood.
Jan. 16, 2 p.m. – 7 p.m., St. Peter’s Parish, 701 E. Meyer Blvd.
Jan. 17, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St.
Jan. 18, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., City Hall, 414 E. 12th St.
Jan. 23, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., Genesis Health Clubs, 8600 Ward Parkway, Suite 7
Jan. 26, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.,  Red Cross GKC Chapter, 211 W. Armour Blvd.
Jan. 26, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., HyVee 64th Street, 5330 NW 64th St.
Jan. 28, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Club House, 5602 NW Club House Cove.

Lees Summit:  Jan. 18, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Reese Nichols Lakewood, 5000 NE Lakewood.
Jan. 25, Noon — 4 p.m., John Knox Village, 1001 Chipman Rd.
Jan. 27, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Spirit Zone Booster Club, 1160 SE Century Dr.
Jan. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., St. Luke’s East, 100 NE St. Luke’s Blvd.

Platte City:  Jan. 30, Noon – 6 p.m., Platte County High School, 1501 Branch and 92 Hwy.

Riverside:  Jan. 16, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Riverside Community Center, 4498 NW High Dr.


Atchison:  Jan. 15, 2:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m., Trinity Lutheran Church, 603 N. 8th St.

Gardner:  Jan. 13, 9 a.m. —  2 p.m., Gardner Elementary School, 218 E. Shawnee St.
Jan. 18, 2 p.m. — 8 p.m., Nike Elementary, 19500 S. Gardner Rd.

Lenexa:   Jan. 25, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Metro Title Services, 8215 Melrose Dr., #200.

Leavenworth:  Jan. 11, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., The Guidance Center, 500 Limit St.
Jan. 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Fairfield Inn and Suites, 1101 N. 4th St.

Olathe:   Jan. 12, 1 p.m. — 5 p.m., Bass Pro Shop Olathe, 12051 Bass Pro Dr.

Jan. 15, 1 pm. – 7 p.m., Olathe Indian Creek Library, Santa Fe Shopping Center,
13511 S. Mur-Len Rd, Suite 129.

Overland Park:   Jan. 19, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., Rose Estates, 12700 Antioch Rd.
Jan. 20, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., New Haven Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 8714 Antioch.
Jan. 23, 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., Ad Astra, 6900 W. 80th St., #300.
Jan. 26, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Overland Park Racquet Club, 6800 W. 91 St.

Shawnee:   Jan. 17, 11 a.m. — 5:30 p.m., Monticello Trails  School, 6100 Monticello Rd.