Blood and relief personnel in short supply locally due to hurricane

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO—Efforts to help the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy have resulted in a local shortage of blood and trained disaster relief workers, says an officer of the American Red Cross Club at Western Michigan University.

Jackson Peebles, vice president for disaster relief and services to the armed forces, says the club is working with the Greater Kalamazoo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to encourage people to immediately donate blood and volunteer for Red Cross Disaster Action Team training.

Peebles also notes that now is the time to join the Red Cross' annual holiday mail campaign, which brightens the season for military veterans and servicepersons, along with their families.

Blood supply shortage

Hurricane Sandy led to cancellation of more than 240 blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 8,000 donations for the holiday season, when blood of all types is traditionally needed most.

Peebles says WMU's Lee Honors College recently put a dent in the blood shortage by helping to collect 39 pints of blood. That many pints has the potential to save up to 117 lives.

Additional local blood drives, on and off campus, are expected to be scheduled soon. Visit to check for blood drives in the Kalamazoo area.

Disaster action training

The Kalamazoo Red Cross reports that it has deployed 28 people to respond to Hurricane Sandy, nearly depleting the amount of local volunteers who are available to respond to fires, floods and other community disasters.

Peebles says members of the campus community, including students, can immediately sign up for Red Cross Disaster Action Team training. Action teams are sent to disaster scenes to provide immediate relief services to those affected by the incidents as well as to the emergency workers responding to them.

Volunteers must complete a screening and application process as well as a series of courses. The training schedule in relatively flexible, as the required courses are being offered more frequently than normal due to the dramatic need right now for more team members. To learn more about becoming a Disaster Action Team member, visit the Kalamazoo Red Cross at or call (269) 353-6180.

Holiday mail campaign

WMU's Red Cross Club is participating in the annual Holiday Mail for Heroes national campaign, which is running through Friday, Dec. 7. The program encourages people to write messages in holiday cards and have the Red Cross distribute them to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.

Following specified guidelines, those wishing to take part in the campaign make or purchase cards and send them to the national Red Cross or join with a local group that collects the cards.

The University's Red Cross Club has been working with the Lee Honors College and other campus entities to collect cards from students and employees. Peebles says the club provided cards for people to use in that first round and will be obtaining another batch of cards to give out for a second collection period that will end Wednesday, Dec. 5

He says the honors college, Residence Life and several of the University's degree-granting colleges publicized the mail campaign so well that the initial round was a resounding success.

"The American Red Cross Club at WMU cannot thank you enough for your unfailing support of the Red Cross' mission," Peebles said in a statement to the Lee Honors College dated Nov. 17. "With your support and that of many other departments on campus, we have been able to rapidly complete our entire goal and will be rolling out additional campaigns shortly, given the overwhelmingly positive response."

He notes that whether using cards provided by the club or individually purchased cards, no postage is necessary if writers submit them to the honors college (preferred) or the Red Cross Club in WMU's Student Organizations Center. Visit the national Red Cross website to learn about the guidelines to follow.

For more information about WMU's Red Cross Club, visit the club website at or contact Jackson Peebles at or (269) 350-4335. Information about the greater Kalamazoo Red Cross chapter is available at or by contacting Chapter Executive Lisa Bonney at or (269) 353-6180.