JANUARY 19, 1959
SARASOTA, Fla.—This column is being written long before your local Red Cross active members will call upon you—as they do throughout the country at some time during the month of March in their annual appeal for funds. I write it because I feel that we need to know why in these years of international tension the responsibilities of the Red Cross are greatly increased.
Under present circumstances we have increased the number of our men serving in the Armed forces throughout the world, and the Red Cross, therefore, has increased its responsibilities to these men and to their families.
Fortunately for us, the year ending on June 30, 1958, was the lightest year from the standpoint of disasters that the Red Cross has had to meet since 1954. But it still had to spend nine million dollars to meet the needs of disaster victims of one kind or another.
Because the President of the United States appoints the head of the American National Red Cross, people sometimes think it is a government-supported institution. This is not true. It is supported entirely by voluntary contributions from the general public. This year the organization's fund goal is 95 million dollars. It is expected that 55 million dollars will be raised through Red Cross participation in joint community campaigns in the fall of this year, but the balance of 40 million dollars must be raised in the month of March.
When we talk about disasters we mean meeting the needs of people when fires, floods, explosions, tornadoes, and hurricanes strike. First, of course, food, clothing, medicine and shelter and nursing care must be provided, but in addition there is the long-range job of helping families with inadequate resources to get back on their feet. And this is done without putting any of these people in debt. Nothing has to be repaid, for the Red Cross donations represent the gifts of the American people to their fellow citizens who happen to be in trouble.
The services to the armed forces and their families and to the veterans are fairly well understood, for many people have had to call upon the Red Cross when their men were in the service or when veterans had to be hospitalized. Thirty-seven cents of every Red Cross dollar was spent last year on this kind of Red Cross service.
Last year two and one-quarter million units of blood were collected by the Red Cross and provided to patients in 3,900 American hospitals.
The organization carries on courses in first aid and in water safety. It gives instruction in home nursing, which is available to all, and it teaches mother and baby care to expectant parents. Through its nursing services volunteer nurses participate in Red Cross programs during disasters, and they conduct classes in home nursing and in training nurses' aids. All of us recognize the grey ladies in our hospitals, the nurses' aids, the motor service drivers, the canteen workers, and the social welfare aids that serve 7,200 Federal and civilian hospitals. In addition, more than 8,000 other community agencies benefited from their services.
And last but not least the Red Cross can occasionally—because of its cooperation with all other Red Cross agencies throughout the world—accomplish some humanitarian task that governments have been unable to attain. Our prisoners in Communist China, for instance, received regular delivery of food packages through the Red Cross. And the search for missing persons goes on through the League of Red Cross Societies and the international committee of the Red Cross in Switzerland.
During the past year the American Red Cross shipped emergency relief to victims of disaster in Ceylon, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, and Spain, as well as directly to Morocca and Tunisia.
This is an impressive report of work well done. Even so, I know there will be criticism now and then at some individual or individuals in the organization, but by and large I think we can feel justified in nationwide support of our American Red Cross.