Briar Woods High School Red Cross Club – Make a Difference

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Dianne Barahona Bonilla, Reporter

The American Red Cross – an organization founded in 1881 by Clara Barton – provides emergency disaster relief, emergency assistance, and disaster education. It can be traced all the way back to the Civil War: when American soldiers lay on death’s door, it was none other than The Red Cross nurses coming to their aid. For 140 years, they have provided life-saving services across six continents.

The Battle of Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the American Civil War in April of 1861. Soldiers swarmed the streets of Washington DC. They lacked medical supplies and suitable shelter, so they were forced to cater to their own needs. Clara Barton, a patriotic woman who saw her old friends suffering, sprung into action. She gathered supplies from her neighborhood, friends, and brought an optimistic spirit that inspired American soldiers to remain positive. Her supply wagons prevented the death of thousands. In a world where the medical industry was dominated by men, Clara Barton became one of the most influential and inspiring nurses in history. 

With the guidance of Clara Barton, The American Red Cross soon expanded into national territory. During the 23 years she served, the organization provided aid to US soldiers during the Spanish-American war as well as international relief efforts. She resigned in 1904, merely a few years before The Red Cross would face its biggest relief project in its few decades of life – WWI.

The SS Red Cross or The Mercy Ship was dispatched to Europe within weeks of the war. 170 surgeons and nurses rode accompanied by medical personnel and supplies. Chaos erupted at headquarters with the overwhelming waves of soldiers and civilians requesting medical support. It became more chaotic when the Influenza pandemic hit American streets killing half a million people. It wasn’t until the 1920s when the Red Cross completed most of their overseas operations and withdrew their volunteers to focus on what remained of the US. 

While the RC indeed focuses on national issues, it certainly addresses more minor issues as well. There are nationwide clubs partaking in volunteer services for their local community. Schools across the country as well as BWHS offer the Red Cross Club. In the upcoming months, the BWRCC will be hosting a blood drive and delivering comfort kits to kids. The club welcomes all students with the hopes of increasing youth engagement. When asked about her favorite memory in the club, junior Madison Gentilcore responded, “[Her favorite memory] would have to be making the comfort kits, knowing [the comfort kits] were all going to a charitable cause made the time and effort put into [the comfort kits] worth it.” They contain food, drinks, hygiene products, and cards filled with kind words. Senior Laura Boci said, “The volunteer opportunities RC provides are not only fulfilling, but fun” which is why she has “been a member all four years of [her] high school career.” Currently, they are working on expanding their volunteer event list in the near future. 

Each year, the Red Cross reaches more than 100 million people internationally. Students may potentially save a life simply by joining the club. Applications are still open to join at BW, for more information, contact Secretary Emily Marrero at 862[email protected]