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Red Cross has done admirable work for those who need immediate help

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on January 23, 2003:

Senator Dyson Mother Nature is often cruel. She reaps tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters that often occur at the spur of the moment.

This year, Southern Maryland was particularly devastated by the April 28 tornado that practically destroyed the business district in Charles County and killed five people in Charles and Calvert County and caused millions of dollars in damage. Families were displaced, businesses destroyed. Its affects still linger.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd ripped through this area causing people to be uprooted from their homes and again costing millions of dollars.

While those affected by these most recent tragedies waited for their insurance companies to assess the damage -- sometimes for days, even months, the Red Cross was there immediately to assist with blood, shelter, clothes and other necessities so that the displaced and devastated could be comforted.

I recently had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the St. Mary’s County Chapter Red Cross’ 85th anniversary celebration. The St. Mary’s Red Cross has a magnificent history.

Just 25 years after the saintly Clara Barton founded the American Association of the Red Cross, the St. Mary’s County Chapter of the American Red Cross was founded. A benefit was held at the Music Hall of the St. Mary’ s Female Seminary for the purpose of raising funds to support a Red Cross Chapter in the summer of 1916.

The St. Mary’s Red Cross was initially made up of mostly women who knitted socks and sweaters for the local servicemen leaving for training to fight in World War I.

By January 1918, there were 225 members of the St. Mary’s Chapter, quite a large number considering the Mother County’s low population in those days. The St. Mary’s Chapter has grown stronger ever since. In 1934 the first Red Cross blood donor drive was organized in St. Mary’s County. Throughout the 1930s, as it has since, The St. Mary’s Chapter assisted victims of fires and floods, especially during the fall of 1936 when a devastating hurricane caused heavy damage and changed the shoreline of St. Mary’s County.

During World War II, the St. Mary’s Chapter’s work was vital. Many of its volunteers fell on the battlefields of the Western Front and Eastern fronts. The county’s women stepped in and helped thousands of service people with loans and notification of deaths or serious injuries to the loved ones who were overseas saving the world.

In 1953, the St. Mary’s Chapter was there in full force when Hurricane Hazel descended on St. Mary’s County with high winds and heavy rain. Despite being extended beyond its means, the St. Mary’s Chapter did everything in its power to help. Countless hours of volunteerism went to helping the victims of Hurricane Hazel.

During Hurricane Gloria in 1985, the St. Mary’s Chapter assisted 1,800 people with food, clothing and shelter.

The St. Mary’s Chapter’s Disaster Action Team has been extremely active with practice drills of all types and classes to be ready for any disaster that may occur. That’s why they provided such invaluable aid and assistance to the Southern Maryland tornado victims of 2002 in an extraordinary timely fashion.

The St. Mary’s Chapter of the American Red Cross volunteers are true, unheralded heroes. You can sleep safely knowing that these selfless volunteers are there for you if you are the victim of a terrible natural disaster. That’s why I was so proud to honor the St. Mary’s Chapter’s 85th anniversary at a special ceremony on October 26.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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