More volunteers needed at area Red Cross - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

More volunteers needed at area Red Cross

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Altoona (WQOW) - As people flee from disaster areas, one group storms into the center of it. The American Red Cross is at the heart of relief efforts around the world and right here in the Chippewa Valley but that help takes manpower.  Our local Red Cross is expanding its disaster relief team and needs more volunteers.

Disasters get national attention and national response from the American Red Cross.

"We're looking to recruit more volunteers to help with disaster relief. With the situation in Colorado, we've sent local volunteers," says Kyle Kriegl of the American Red Cross.

Like Earl Eckwright, who left Chippewa Falls on Wednesday to help flood victims in Colorado.

"I was down in Florida, Charlie hit and I've got property down there. The Red Cross was there for three weeks; feeding us twice a day, water, ice, anything we needed. So then I called the Red Cross. Rita hit, so I flew in there and worked for three weeks and then three weeks at Katrina and I was hooked," Eckwright says.  

But volunteers, like Earl, also respond to disasters much closer to home.

"We want to prepare so we're ready for the next disaster that strikes here," Kriegl says.

"When the Red Cross comes in, we'll find some lodging for you, we'll give you an allowance for food. If you had to run out the house and you don't have any shoes, we can provide that or some seasonal clothing if it's in the wintertime. When people are displaced from their homes because of, for example, a house fire, at that moment, people are stressed simply because their home has been damaged," says Dave Nuesse, an area Red Cross volunteer.

Last year, the local Red Cross chapter responded to 300 emergencies, things like floods and house fires, which is why the non-profit is seeking a larger pool of volunteers.

"A lot of people want to find ways to give back to their community. How can they make their community safer? How can they help out when a disaster emergency hits? This is one way people can get involved with the Red Cross, Kriegl says.

Since 2010. Dave Nuesse has spent more than 4,000 hours volunteering. That is 100 40 hour work weeks in just three years.

"As a volunteer, it's the heartfelt goodness of coming to the aid of people when they have a need that really, really needs to be met. The Red Cross is our vehicle for providing help to people," Nuesse says.

In late October, the Red Cross will be holding a state-wide training conference for old and new volunteers in Wausau.

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