New club promotes disaster preparedness through service

Archie Barton | Staff Writer

Shining a light on the importance of planning, Red Cross Club is teaching people the steps they can take in order to combat natural disasters.

The club is led by five directors and participates in a plethora of service projects in school and the local community. Freshman director Sanjana Velu said the club was created reflecting the ideals of the American Red Cross, with the goal of educating students and benefitting the overall community.

“We think knowing what to do in case of an emergency is very important.” Velu said. “The panic that you feel in the moment, you might not really realize what you actually need to do so I think it’s important that we can teach people what they should be doing. Incorporating students into doing this will benefit our community and school.” 

With membership in the American Red Cross organization, the club is required to carry out at least three service events per year. Sophomore director Yuva Vidwans and the other directors completed the required events during the course of their first year as a club. 

“We organized a preparedness service project and completed veteran service projects,” Vidwans said.  “Bags of Bravery was where we created gift bags with handwritten personal notes to veterans and then handed them out during the Veterans Parade. We also did Totes for Hope, where we made bags of general care items, such as soap and other things that Veterans need, and donated them to homeless Veterans.”

As well as organizing events to help those in need, Red Cross Club posed challenges to first bell classes and held a preparedness fair to educate students on the importance of being ready for disasters. Freshman director Shrilekha Kalavakolanu said that the club started with a week of challenges promoting students to take action in their attitude towards natural disasters. 

“We set first bell classes The Giving Challenge, where we posted challenges online each morning to get people involved in researching what they could do to stay safe.” Kalavakolanu said. “We wanted people to take this challenge seriously and make them think about what they could change. We awarded small prizes around Christmas time as an incentive to do something that helps educate the school.”

Starting with small goals, the club held a Preparedness Fair at the high school for students and members of the community to learn more about the American Red Cross and listen to the local Police and Fire Departments, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and school nurses on how to keep safe in case of emergency. Vidwans said the idea of a preparedness fair was the perfect way to incorporate their club and the American Red Cross into the surrounding area.

“We decided to have a Preparedness Fair because the whole mission of the Red Cross is to help people who are in need.” Vidwans said. “People are hit by emergencies and if we can find a way, in our town, in our community to prevent that from happening, I feel that can really help and that’s our purpose as a club.” 

Although the directors expected there to be a small turnout, Vidwans said 55 people attended the fair, including adults and children who got to learn more about the club.

“I thought it was really cool to see how different people like our police officers and especially CERT teams come together and talk to people,” Vidwans said. “You could see people visually engaged with everything, specifically learning about preparedness in situations.” 

Serving as an educational opportunity for those who attended, the club directors hope to change the minds of some towards the necessity of preparation and the implementation of emergency kits in the home, according to Velu.

“I think it’s especially important in our community,” Velu said. “The people that came to our fair left telling us they didn’t realize how much they needed to prepare for disasters and said they would go home and make a kit, which is one of the most essential things.” 

With this year laying the foundation for the club, Vidwans said she has learned how to successfully share the club’s message and get people more involved. As well as continuing their service, the club hopes to become more known in the school and increase their support.

“The biggest thing is telling people about it and bringing them in to see the magic of the club,” Vidwans said. “Making the club more known will help make our events run smoother, and allow us to make a bigger difference in our school and community.”

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